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5,000 operations cancelled a month


2 June, 2008  

More than 5,000 operations a month planned on the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) are cancelled at the last minute for reasons not related to the patient’s medical condition, official figures have shown.

Data revealed that 16,800 operations were cancelled in the three months to the end of March, compared to 14,600 cancelled operations at the same period last year.

There were wide variations across England, with the highest number of cancelled operations – 539 – being at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust had the second most, with 359 cancelled operations.

In parts of Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset and Devon there were no cancelled operations.

Of all the cancellations, 1,025 (6%) of patients were not treated within 28 days of a cancellation, compared with 729 (5%) in the same period last year.

The Department of Health said the cancelled operations represented 1% of all elective activity, compared with 0.9% in the same period last year.

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “This worrying rise suggests that patient care is the latest casualty of the Government’s obsession with targets.

“By rushing the treatment of certain patients to meet their 18-week target, other patients will have fallen by the wayside and seen their operations cancelled.

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