Op cancellations up by more than half at NHS Borders, figures reveal

The Borders General Hospital at Melrose.
The Borders General Hospital at Melrose.

The number of operations cancelled by NHS Borders in October was up by almost half on the month before, latest figures reveal.

Out of more than 460 ops planned, 50 were called off.

That cancellation rate of 10.8% was up from 7.1% the previous month.

NHS Borders medical director Cliff Sharp said: “Coming into hospital for an operation is an anxious time for many people, and we know how important it is to patients that you are treated as soon as possible.

“During October, 50 out of a total of 464 planned procedures were cancelled, half for capacity or non-clinical reasons.

“The other half were cancelled either by the patient themselves, in 11 cases, or for a clinical reason by NHS Borders, in 14 cases.

“There were a variety of factors behind the capacity or non-clinical cancellations.

“In six cases, due to demand in the Borders General Hospital, there were no beds available in the appropriate wards to admit patients to.

“In five cases, emergencies had to take priority, and in four, sickness absence was the cause.

“A further three procedures were deferred in the interest of patient safety, until an intensive care bed was available for patients who would have required that level of care after their surgery.

“We continue to work very hard to drive down cancellation rates, regardless of monthly fluctuation, in order to improve the patient experience in this area.”

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP John Lamont believes more needs to be done to stop surgery being postponed so often, however.

He said: “I know that staff at NHS Borders are acutely aware of the problems surrounding both cancelled operations and recruitment of staff.

“Cancellations are a waste of resources and an inconvenience to patients.

“It is concerning that in NHS Borders, half of all cancellations are down to a lack of resources and that this is a problem which simply won’t go away.

“I’ve repeatedly raised the issues of both cancellations and nurse vacancies, and it is now time to take some action.”

“The Scottish Government needs to rethink whether health boards with large rural populations like NHS Borders are being sufficiently resourced.

“With nurse vacancies in particular still a problem, we also need to look closely at helping with recruitment.

“These statistics suggest to me that NHS Borders needs greater support.”