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Surgery cancellations claim dispute

Suggestions by the Conservative Party that more than 7,000 patients have had their surgery cancelled more than once have prompted claims that the statistics have been manipulated.

Figures obtained from 124 health trusts show that 77,302 operations in total were cancelled for non-clinical reasons including a shortage of beds, missing patient records, staffing issues and a lack of equipment.

The Conservatives then extrapolated the data across 171 hospital trusts in England, saying around 105,000 operations were estimated to have been cancelled for non-clinical reasons in 2007/08.

But a Department of Health spokesman said 11,585 operations were cancelled because of “patient related problems”, including the patient cancelling themselves, and should be set against the huge increase in the number of patients that the NHS is treating.

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“Between 1997 and 2008, the number of elective admissions has increased by over 1.5 million whilst the number of operations cancelled at the last moment remained at less then 1.5%.”

Mike Proctor, deputy chief executive for York Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “This interpretation of the statistics we supplied in good faith is a mischievous use of the information. Of 7,267 reported cancellations, 5,360 were not genuine ‘cancellations’ in the sense implied by the Conservative Party.”

Copyright PA Business 2008

Department of Health