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Almost 70,000 NHS ops cancelled due to lack of staff, beds or equipment

Labour branded the figures ‘nothing short of a scandal’.

File photo dated 03/10/14 of a nurse on a ward at a hospital. (Peter Byrne/PA)
File photo dated 03/10/14 of a nurse on a ward at a hospital. (Peter Byrne/PA)

Almost 70,000 operations were cancelled in the NHS in England last year due to a lack of beds, staff or equipment, according to new figures.

The numbers, obtained by the Daily Mirror through Freedom of Information requests, were described by Labour as “nothing short of a scandal”.

And the true total could be higher, as only 138 out of 170 NHS trusts responded to the paper’s query.

Behind these statistics are ­thousands of people waiting longer and longer in pain and anxiety for an ­operation Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth

In total, the trusts which replied reported 214,000 non-clinical cancellations in 2017/18, up 9% on the previous year and 29% on the 166,000 recorded in 2013/14.

Of these, some 29,869 were caused by a lack of beds – up 59% on the 18,783 seen in 2013/14. Staff shortages were blamed for 29,550 cancellations – up 73%. And 10,334 procedures were halted due to equipment or theatres being unavailable – a rise of 48%.

Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth told the Mirror: “Behind these statistics are ­thousands of people waiting longer and longer in pain and anxiety for an ­operation, with huge risks their health will deteriorate further.

“Ministers should hang their heads in shame for what they have done to our NHS.”

A spokesman for the NHS said: “Despite significant pressure, in England fewer than 1% of operations are postponed on the day, with just 0.9% cancelled in the last three months, and nurses, doctors and NHS leaders across the country are also rightly prioritising emergency patients over winter.”

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