Huge surge in cancelled operations in Doncaster due to an over-stretched NHS

The number of operations cancelled last minute in the Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has surged.

Figures from NHS England show that 210 non-urgent operations, such as hip or knee procedures, were cancelled by the trust at the last minute in the three months to September.

Cancelled operations

Cancelled operations

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This was an increase of 20% from the same period in 2017, when there were 175.

The data covers cancellations for to non-clinical reasons, such as bed or staff shortages.

The Royal College of Surgeons has blamed pressure on the over-stretched NHS for the increasing number of cancellations in England.

It also warned the figures could be masking the true scale of the problem, as they do not include operations cancelled at more than 24 hours' notice.

A last-minute cancellation is defined as being either on the day that a patient was due to arrive, after the patient has arrived, or on the day of the operation itself.

Professor Cliff Shearman, vice president of the RCS, said: “Having an operation that has been planned for months cancelled at short notice can be very stressful for patients and their families.

"Alongside practical considerations such as wasted time off work and rescheduling the surgery, patients will have to deal with the mental anguish of preparing for surgery all over again.

“They will also have to endure waiting longer in pain and discomfort, possibly unable to work or complete day-to-day tasks for themselves. In some cases, their condition may worsen."

If a trust is unable to reschedule the operation within 28 days, it must instead fund the treatment in another hospital.

It also forfeits its payment from the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, which funds healthcare in the area.

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There were 18,460 last minute cancellations across England in the three months to September.

Of these, 8.3% of patients did not have their operations rescheduled within 28 days.

This rate is higher than the same period a year ago, when it was 6.8%.

Sarah Scobie, deputy director of research at the Nuffield Trust, said: "Sadly, this is not a surprise. Although these numbers are small, this is yet another sign of how difficult the NHS is currently finding it to provide as much planned care as people need.

"Last month, we saw waiting times reach their worst level in nearly a decade."

An NHS England spokesman said: “Only a small minority of operations are cancelled on the day, while 15,000 fewer people now wait a year for their operation compared with 2010.

“New guidance issued to trusts recently will see local health service leaders allocate extra funding to community services, like district nursing teams and outreach clinics, to help them care for more patients, freeing up hospital beds and staff to reduce surgery waiting lists.”