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Hundreds of ops ‘cancelled due to admin errors’

Tory MP claims more than 620 cancelled every day


More than 160,000 NHS operations were cancelled last year because of administrative errors, an MP claimed today.

Mistakes such as forgetting to book an operating theatre and failing to inform the patient of the operation date resulted in more than 620 operations being abandoned every day last year, he said.

Tory MP Grant Shapps, who represents Welwyn Hatfield, calculated the figures after using freedom of information laws to request data from all NHS trusts in England and Wales. He estimated the total number of cancelled operations from the responses he received.

Cost of cancellations

Mr Shapps said: ‘At a fairly conservative guess, this could be costing more than £150 million pounds a year.

‘The administrative errors we were told about include things like when the patient wasn’t informed that the operation had been booked, or the theatre wasn’t ready because nobody let the staff know.’

However, a Department of Health spokesman insisted that official cancellation figures from all NHS trusts had fallen by more than 20 per cent since 2002. The total number of last-minute cancelled operations – those that cause the most distress to patients – fell to under 61,000 last year, despite a rise in activity.

‘We don’t collect data on all cancelled operations to minimise the burden on the NHS, but [Mr Shapps’s] figure is based on extrapolations from just 62 trusts so should be treated with caution.’

He added: ‘Operations may be cancelled for a variety of reasons – including patients being unavailable – but the introduction of the cancelled operations guarantee in April 2002 means patients must be guaranteed an operation within 28 days of a cancellation.’

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