New research indicates that 1 in 7 surgeries in UK hospitals are cancelled on the day of surgery. The findings were published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia.
Researchers evaluated 26,171 inpatient surgeries scheduled to take place in 245 NHS hospitals across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The findings revealed that of the 26,171 surgeries, 3724 were cancelled or postponed on the day of surgery translating to a cancellation rate of 1 in 7 surgeries. The likelihood of cancellation of surgery was 5 times higher when an emergency department was present at the hospital. 33% of cancelled operations were due to clinical reasons. The likelihood of an elective, non-emergency operation being cancelled in individuals, medically fit for surgery, was 3 times higher when there was a requirement of subsequent critical care. 10% of individuals undergoing an elective, non-emergency inpatient surgery had the same operation cancelled at least once before, primarily due to non-clinical reasons such as insufficient bed capacity and insufficient operating theatre capacity.
Professor Ramani Moonesinghe, a senior study author, said: "Last minute cancellations of surgery affect the health and welfare of tens of thousands of patients in the UK every year. Hospitals should look into the reasons for cancellations locally, researchers should investigate the potential benefits of different solutions."