Lamont says Holyrood is to blame for cancelled ops

Scottish Ambulance Service vehicle outside the Border General Hospital in The Scottish Borders.
Scottish Ambulance Service vehicle outside the Border General Hospital in The Scottish Borders.

Borders MP John Lamont has said “immediate action” has to be taken by the Scottish Government, after he found out that almost a quarter of NHS Borders’ planned operations were cancelled in January.

Mr Lamont was talking about the ISD Scotland statistics for that month, which show that 23.7% of the 372 planned operations were cancelled by the health board, a record high, compared to the national percentage in the same month, of 12.3%.

Mr Lamont said: “I know that everyone at NHS Borders will be hugely concerned that nearly a quarter of all planned operations are being cancelled.

“I’ve repeatedly raised this issue which has troubled NHS Borders for a while now.

“The health board’s hard-working staff are clearly being let down by the Scottish Government and their inability to support rural health boards. Issues like nurse and consultant vacancies and a lack of beds all contribute to cancellations and need to be looked at by the Scottish Government.

“These figures keep on getting worse and worse and it is now undeniable that something fairly serious is going wrong in the Borders.

“How many more months need to pass until the Scottish Government wakes up to the fact that NHS Borders needs help?”

NHS Borders’ medical director, Dr Cliff Sharp said the figures were mostly down to “unprecedented pressures”, with many ill people taking up beds which would have been required by anyone recovering from an operation.

He told us: “We are facing unprecedented pressures this winter which are inevitably impacting on some performance indicators such as the number of planned procedures that we have to postpone, and the number of people we are able to see and discharge within four hours when they attend our emergency department.”

“We undertook surgery on 284 patients during January. We had planned to see 372 patients.

“Of the 88 procedures that did not take place, 21 were cancelled by the patients themselves.

“In 53 cases the procedures were postponed due to bed availability, because the beds were already filled with very sick people.”

Dr Sharp also indicated that patients waiting for operations understood the situation.

He said: “We appreciate how important operations are and how disappointed those who we weren’t able to see will be.

“That said, our patients are also understanding of the pressures we are facing, and these pressures continue.

“I would like to thank patients for their understanding during this challenging period, and our staff who continue to work tirelessly.”

The latest A&E statistics reveal that the hospital is still, indeed, struggling to make targets, with only 92.1% seen within four hours in the week ending February 25 – an improvement from the 87.8” the previous week.

The statistics also reveal that 1,185 bed days were lost in January of this year due to delayed discharges.

Local MSP Rachael Hamilton said: “These latest figures show that NHS Borders is under real pressure and the winter crisis is continuing.

“Of course, the staff at NHS Borders do fantastic work under challenging conditions.

“However, what also should be recognised is the extra pressure that the SNP Government’s neglect causes our NHS.”