The number of surgeries canceled by the NHS in England due to staff shortages may have doubled in three years, with an estimated 30,000 surgeries canceled because staff were not available to carry them out.
At least a third of canceled operations were urgent, according to Labour’s analysis. It suggested at least 2,500 canceled surgeries for cancer patients and 8,000 for children.
The data was collected by Labor from freedom of information requests in support of the party’s pledge to invest heavily in tackling staff shortages. due to staff shortage.
It found staffing shortages were the most common reason for hospital cancellations, accounting for one in five of all surgeries canceled for non-clinical reasons last year.
The Department of Health and Social Care said it was “misleading” to extrapolate that figure from the data in the FOIs. “Thousands of elective appointments and procedures had to be canceled during the pandemic to protect the NHS, and since then we have focused on delivering the largest catch-up program in health history – virtually eliminating the longest waiting time of 2 years for treatment,”, said a spokesperson.
Labor has said it will address the long-term shortages by doubling the number of medical school places to train 15,000 doctors and 10,000 new nurses and midwives each year, as well as 5,000 new health visitors.
Wes Streeting, the shadow secretary of health, said the long wait for critical operations was a direct result of the Conservatives’ failure to train enough personnel. “Canceling surgeries causes massive disruption for patients and prevents them from moving on with their lives,” he said.
“Labour will tackle this problem at its roots. We will train a new generation of doctors and nurses so that patients get the treatment they need, when they need it. We will abolish non-doms to pay for it because patients need more treatment than the wealthiest need a tax break and if you live and work in Britain you have to pay your taxes here.
In total, 158,000 surgeries were canceled due to equipment failure, a shortage of beds, and 5,700 due to equipment failure, administrative errors, and overflowing theater lists. Labor cited a case involving a 72-year-old woman who underwent two operations to remove a brain tumor that was canceled in September due to a lack of available beds.
About 9,500 operations were canceled because of an emergency priority, and 250 because of bad weather.
Separate figures from the NHS show that a record number of surgeries canceled at the last minute are not rescheduled within a month, with one in five patients waiting longer.
The data came from responses from 50 of the 122 acute trusts that responded to the FoI requests. In 2018-2019, 10,900 surgeries were canceled due to staff shortages. The number of canceled operations due to equipment failure has risen from 4,800 to 5,700.
Over the weekend, Streeting came under fire from the British Medical Association after an interview in which he criticized the doctors’ union after saying GPs should improve patient care in addition to funding new doctors’ training.
The shadow health secretary said he couldn’t understand why the BMA was “so hostile to the idea that with more staff should come better standards for patients”.
A vote last month by GPs in England to reduce surgery hours to 9am to 5pm made doctors “seem like they live on another planet and, worst of all, don’t really think about the best interests of of patients,” said Streeting.
Nevertheless, Dr Emma Runswick, the BMA’s deputy chair of the board, said the comments were “incredibly disappointing” and that the anger “should be aimed directly at the government”.
But Streeting’s comments were backed up by Keir Starmer, who said he had spoken to Streeting and agreed with what he had said. The Labor leader said: “I agree … we need to think about working differently and simply saying surgery is only between 9 and 5 just doesn’t fit that pattern,” he told LBC.
“What I want to see from everyone when we get to reform, when we do it as a Labor government, is a kind of can-do attitude.”