Shona Robison under pressure after rise in cancelled operations and bed blocking

Written by Tom Freeman on 2 May 2018 in News

Sustainability of NHS boards to be debated at Holyrood in the wake of latest ISD figures

Shona Robison - Scottish Parliament

Instances of cancelled operations and bed blocking have increased, mounting pressure of Health Secretary Shona Robison.

The first three months of 2018 saw 3,160 planned operations cancelled for non-clinical or capacity reasons, with the number rising by 4.1 per cent from February to March.

March also saw 42,628 days spent in hospital by people who were well enough to be discharged, an increase of 3 per cent on March 2017 and 11 per cent on February.

Health boards have blamed the weather, including the ‘Beast from the East’ snow storm, for the rises, according to the Scottish Government.

Robison said: “Severe weather and warnings not to travel did mean many staff could not get to hospital, and this level of disruption takes hospitals time to recover from.

“Despite that, on average 820 operations a day took place and feedback from boards has shown that the clear majority of cancellations for capacity or non-clinical reasons in March was due to the adverse weather.”

The figures come ahead of a debate in Holyrood over NHS finances in the wake of NHS Tayside being placed under special measures and its leadership team replaced.

NHS Lothian, Highland and Ayrshire have also been facing financial issues.

The Scottish Conservatives are calling for the immediate publication of the current financial position for all NHS bodies and asking for monthly updates to be provided to both the Health & Sport and Audit Committees.

Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary said:

“It is deeply concerning that we are seeing such a significant increase in cancelled operations due to capacity issues and it clearly demonstrates the NHS under the SNP is unable to cope.

“These capacity issues are forcing patients to wait, in pain and discomfort, for an uncertain amount of time before undergoing recommended operations.

“This is an appalling situation and it is, quite clearly, further evidence of the SNP failing to deliver a health service the people of Scotland need.”

Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health Anas Sarwar said Robison had promised to eliminate delayed discharge but cuts to local government finances had made it impossible.

“Shona Robison’s failure to keep her promise on delayed discharge has cost our health service a staggering £380 million,” he said. 

“That is money that could have been reinvested in our health service to improve patient care. Much of the delay in discharging patients is due to social care issues and delays in care assessments – the result of years of an SNP government slashing local authority budgets, with £1.5billion cut since 2011. 

“The short sighted crisis management approach to our health service needs to change – starting with the Health Secretary. Shona Robison is out of her depth and out of time.” 

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