NHS: 30,000 operations cancelled ‘due to staff shortages’

NHS: 30,000 operations cancelled ‘due to staff shortages’

NHS hospital
NHS hospital

Around 30,000 surgeries were canceled in England last year due to NHS staff shortages, figures show.

Data collected from NHS hospitals shows that staff shortages were the most common reason for cancellations, with one in five surgeries canceled for non-clinical reasons in 2021/22.

Labor requested the data using freedom of information laws.

The analysis found that 13,000 surgeries were canceled due to a lack of beds, 5,700 due to equipment failure, 12,600 due to administrative errors, 15,500 due to exceeding theater lists, 9,500 due to the priority of an emergency, and 250 due to adverse weather.

In all, around 158,000 surgeries have been canceled for non-clinical reasons by NHS trusts, including an estimated 10,000 urgent surgeries, 2,500 surgeries for cancer patients and 8,000 surgeries on children.

Labor says the number of canceled surgeries has doubled since 2018/19 when 79,000 were cancelled.

The analysis found that the number of operations canceled due to staff shortages has tripled from 10,900 to 30,000 over the same period, while those canceled due to defective equipment have increased from 4,800 to 5,700.

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said: “Patients are being forced to wait longer for vital surgeries because Conservatives have not trained enough staff over the past 12 years.

“The cancellation of surgeries causes tremendous disruption to patients and prevents them from moving on with their lives.

“Labour will get to the root of this problem.

“We will train a new generation of doctors and nurses so patients get the treatment they need, when they need it.

“We will abolish non-doms to pay for it because patients need treatment more than the richest need a tax break and if you live and work in the UK you should be paying your taxes here.”

NHS Digital data shows job vacancies in the NHS are at a record high.

The job vacancy rate across the NHS in England – the number of vacancies in relation to the planned workforce – was 9.7% at the end of September.

More than 133,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions are unfilled.

Meanwhile, an average of 54,581 NHS workers in England were on sick leave in the seven days to December 4.

Saffron Cordery, interim CEO of NHS Providers, said: “These worrying results show just how severe the pressure on trusts is from chronic staffing shortages.

“We currently have a staggering 133,000 vacancies in the NHS, which is affecting patient access to care.

“The failure of multiple governments over many years to create an effective NHS work plan is at the root of this growing problem.

“Now the threat of strikes and rapidly increasing demand threaten to exacerbate the situation this winter.”

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