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. Information on the reasons for cancellations are also included.

Main points

  • The total number of planned operations across NHSScotland during October 2021 was 16,704. This represents a decrease of 2.6% from 17,150 in September 2021 and is 7.9% lower than the number planned in October 2020. When comparing the latest month with October 2019, prior to the pandemic, there was a decrease of 42.7% from 29,137.
  • In October 2021, 1,385 operations, or 8.3% of all planned operations, were cancelled the day before or on the day the patient was due to be treated. This compares to 1,544 (9.0%) in September 2021, 1,370 (7.6%) in October 2020 and 2,481 (8.5%) in October 2019. At NHS Board level this percentage ranged from 5.0% to 14.4% during the latest month.
  • Of all planned operations during October 2021, 518 (3.1%) were cancelled by the hospital based on clinical reasons, 407 (2.4%) were cancelled by the hospital due to capacity or non-clinical reasons, 414 (2.5%) were cancelled by the patient and 46 (0.3%) were cancelled due to other reasons.
Image caption Total planned operations and percentage of cancelled planned operations, by reason, up to October 2021

Background

These statistics are released monthly. Data for this publication are submitted from NHS board theatre systems.

The following definitions are used for the cancellation reason groupings:

  • Cancellation based on clinical reason by hospital includes 'patient unwell', 'patient not prepared for procedure correctly by hospital' and 'patient did not follow pre op instruction'.
  • Cancellation based on capacity or non-clinical reason by hospital includes 'no beds available', 'staff not available', 'equipment not available' and 'theatre session overran'.
  • Cancellation by patient includes 'patient decides not to go ahead with procedure', 'patient unable to attend', 'patient did not attend' and 'patient did not attend pre-op'.
  • Other includes 'fire alarm prevents operation from taking place', 'weather prevented patient / staff travelling' and 'patient transport did not arrive in time to bring patient to hospital'.

These statistics continue to be affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Following the early stages of the outbreak when many services were paused or reduced and there were fewer referrals to services, Boards started to gradually resume services in the summer of 2020 as part of the planned remobilisation of services. However, as the pandemic has evolved with further waves of high infection rates and increased hospitalisations, there continues to be periods where some Boards have to temporarily pause or limit access to non-urgent elective care. This has been evident in recent months.

Further information

For more information on cancelled planned operations see the cancelled planned operations section of the Data and Intelligence website (external website). For related topics, please see the waiting times pages on the Data and Intelligence website (external website).

A selection of information from this publication is included in NHS Performs (external website).

The next release of this publication will be January 2022.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email 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: 29 November 2021
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