By Bill Heaney

Hospitals cannot afford the added pressure of a junior doctor strike, Scottish Labour has warned as a new report shows rising numbers of operations being cancelled for capacity reasons.

In May 2023 the number of operations cancelled for capacity/non-clinical reasons across Scotland shot up by 22.7 percent compared to the previous month.

In that one month 69 patients in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde region alone had their operation cancelled the day of or the day before they were due to be treated because of the pressure the hospital was under.

Despite some improvement, the number of planned operations taking place each month continues to lag well below pre-pandemic levels, with 18.1 percent fewer operations planned in May 2023 than in May 2019 across the health board which covers Dumbarton constituency.

With the prospect of strike action from junior doctors looming, there is a very real risk that operations could be hit hard and progress treating people stuck on record NHS waiting lists could be set back further, Jackie Baillie has warned.

The Dumbarton constituency MSP said: “Far too many patients are being failed because hospitals simply cannot cope – stuck for months or even years on NHS waiting lists, only to have their operation cancelled at the last minute.

“In May alone within the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area which includes my constituency, 69 patients had their operations cancelled at short notice. That is more than two people every day who have expected to go through a clinical procedure being left to wait even longer. It is unacceptable.

“Staff are working tirelessly to keep things going, but they are also being let down by the SNP’s disastrous mismanagement of our NHS.

“This bleak picture is set to get worse still if the SNP fail to prevent strike chaos from hitting services and driving up waiting lists.

“The reality is Scottish hospitals cannot afford any more pressure – the SNP must get round the table and agree a fair deal for junior doctors now.”

  • The trend for the monthly number of planned operations has generally been on the rise since May 2020 and the 24,125 reported in the latest month is the highest recorded since February 2020 (27,645). However, activity still remains lower than pre-pandemic levels and when comparing to May 2019 (29,672), there were 18.7% fewer operations planned during the latest month.
  • During the latest month, 8.3% (2,003) planned operations were cancelled the day before or on the day the patient was due to be treated, for NHSScotland.
  • In the latest month, there has been a 22.7% increase in the number of cancellations based on capacity/non-clinical reasons, when comparing to April 2023.

Meanwhile, alarm bells’ should be sounding throughout the SNP government, Jackie Baillie has said, as the crisis in A&E has been laid bare.

Statistics published today have shown that almost 500 people waited over 8 hours in A&E at the Royal Alexandra Hospital during May this year, 65 of whom were left waiting for more than 12 hours.

The situation remains dire with the latest figures showing that 33 patients waited over 8 hours in the week ending 25th June 2023 alone in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

Scottish Labour can reveal that, by analysing the weekly A&E data, as many as 28,960 people have languished over eight hours in A&E since Michael Matheson, pictured left, became Health Secretary earlier this year.

At the RAH alone, 1211 people have had to wait for more than eight hours since Michael Matheson assumed the role with 173 waiting more than 12 hours in that time.

Dumbarton constituency MSP Jackie Baillie said: “We are now in the middle of the summer with the current Health Secretary having been in place for months now – but the crisis in our NHS is deepening.

“It is simply shocking that over 11,000 patients have waited over 8 hours in A&E during May alone – with the situation continuing to deteriorate into June. Almost 500 of these people were waiting at the RAH which includes people from our constituency who have already faced a lengthy journey to get to A&E.

“The facts are now clear – Michael Matheson has been unable to pull A&E services out of the nose-dive that Humza Yousaf plunged them into.

“That more than 1200 people have waited over eight hours in the Emergency Department at the RAH since Michael Matheson became Health Secretary should be sounding alarm bells throughout the government.

“Doctors and nurses are at breaking point, but this SNP government is entirely failing to support them.

“The situation in Emergency Departments will never improve whilst this SNP Government continues to neglect primary care, with patients struggling to get GP appointments and 1 in 7 Scots still stuck on waiting lists.

“It’s time for Matheson to listen to NHS workers and act to reverse this deadly crisis.”

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