About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides a monthly update on the number of operations in NHSScotland that were cancelled the day before, or on the day the patient was due to be treated.

Main points

  • The total number of planned operations across NHSScotland during May 2022 was 21,895. This represents an increase of 19% from 18,392 in April 2022 and is 9% higher than the number planned in May 2021. When compared to February 2020, prior to the pandemic, there were 20.8% fewer operations planned, down from 27,645.
Image caption Total planned operations and percentage of cancelled planned operations, by reason, up to May 2022.
  • In May 2022, 1,911 operations, or 8.7% of all planned operations, were cancelled the day before or on the day the patient was due to be treated. This represents a decrease from 9.3% reported in the previous month and remains comparable to pre-pandemic levels. Across NHSScotland Boards, this percentage ranged from 2.9% to 13.4% during the latest month.
  • Of all planned operations during May 2022, 667 (3.0%) were cancelled by the hospital based on clinical reasons, 483 (2.2%) were cancelled by the hospital due to capacity or non-clinical reasons, 665 (3.0%) were cancelled by the patient and 96 (0.4%) were cancelled due to other reasons. The rate of cancellations by patients has returned to pre-pandemic levels.


These statistics are released monthly. Data for this publication are submitted from NHS Board theatre systems. Further information on the reasons for cancellation can be found on the Cancelled Planned Operations section of our website.

The services involved have been affected throughout the course of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. In the early stages of the outbreak most non-urgent treatment was paused or reduced and there were fewer referrals to services. Since then, services were remobilised but capacity was often restrained by the requirement for additional infection control measures. In addition, further waves of the virus have slowed the recovery of services due to the need to again pause or reduce services for reasons such as increased staff absence or the need to divert resources because of an increase in unscheduled hospitalisations.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 2 August 2022. .

NHS Performs

A selection of information from this publication is included in NHS Performs. NHS Performs is a website that brings together a range of information on how hospitals and NHS Boards within NHSScotland are performing.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please contact phs.waitingtimes@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 07 October 2022
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