Public Health Scotland figures released today show that across Scotland there were 151,701 fewer operations scheduled in 2020 compared with 2019, a 44.9 per cent decrease. Scottish Labour has said is an indicator of the huge strain COVID-19 is placing on the health service and the growing backlog of unmet clinical need.
As well as fewer planned operations, a further 16,249 operations were cancelled in 2020, with 26.8 per cent of cancellations due to hospital capacity or non-clinical reasons.
Today’s statistics show that the number of planned operations in December 2020 dropped by 35.1 per cent compared to December 2019, from 25,791 down to 16,740. The number was even lower than November 2020 where 17,916 operations were scheduled.
Worryingly, 1,257 operations (7.5% of all planned operations) in December 2020 were cancelled the day before or on the day the patient was due to be treated.
Scottish Labour has said the drop in planned operations is clear evidence that the NHS in Scotland is under increasing strain with diminishing capacity to cope with non-COVID related illnesses, adding that even more people’s health is at risk as the Scottish government fails to bring the virus under control.
Commenting, Scottish Labour interim leader Jackie Baillie said: “This situation has become much worse, with thousands of people missing out on operations and check-ups, forced to live in pain or worried about when they will receive treatment for severe and life-threatening illnesses.
“This cannot continue. Scottish Labour has been calling for resources to boost the NHS and expand testing, but the Scottish Government has moved too slowly on this and the vaccine rollout.
“The SNP mismanagement has left our NHS in a perilously weak situation where our health services have little capacity to respond to anything other than COVID-19.
“These figures should be a wake-up call. SNP Ministers must take urgent action and produce a plan to get our health services back on track before more lives are put at risk.”