About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides a monthly update on the number of operations in NHSScotland that were cancelled the day before, or on the day the patient was due to be treated.

Main points

  • The total number of planned operations across NHSScotland during January 2022 was 16,044. This represents a decrease of 10% from 17,836 in December 2021 but is 35.6% higher than the number planned in January 2021, when many services for patients with non-urgent clinical needs were temporarily suspended. When comparing to January 2020, prior to the pandemic, there was a 44.4% decrease in planned operations, down from 28,863.
Image caption Total planned operations and percentage of cancelled planned operations, by reason, up to January 2022
  • In January 2022, 1,428 operations, or 8.9% of all planned operations, were cancelled the day before or on the day the patient was due to be treated. This compares to 1,462 (8.2%) in December 2021, 968 (8.2%) in January 2021 and 2,750 (9.5%) in January 2020. Across NHSScotland, this percentage ranged from 2.7% to 14.2% for 14 of the 15 Boards while NHS Borders reported 32.1% - this high rate is influenced by NHS Borders reporting far fewer planned operations than usual, combined with staff sickness and limited bed capacity.
  • Of all planned operations during January 2022, 511 (3.2%) were cancelled by the hospital based on clinical reasons, 363 (2.3%) were cancelled by the hospital due to capacity or non-clinical reasons, 471 (2.9%) were cancelled by the patient and 83 (0.5%) were cancelled due to other reasons.


These statistics are released monthly. Data for this publication are submitted from NHS Board theatre systems. Further information on the reasons for cancellation can be found on the Cancelled Planned Operations section of the Data and Intelligence website.

The services involved continue to be affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. In the early stages of the outbreak most non-urgent treatment was paused or reduced and there were fewer referrals to services. Since then services have been remobilising (external website) but capacity is constrained by the requirement for additional infection control measures. In addition, further waves of the virus have slowed the recovery of services due to the need to again pause or reduce services for reasons such as increased staff absence or the need to divert resources because of an increase in unscheduled hospitalisations.

Further information

For more information on cancelled planned operations see the cancelled planned operations section of the Data and Intelligence website. For related topics, please see the waiting times pages on the Data and Intelligence website.

A selection of information from this publication is included in NHS Performs (external website).

The next release of this publication will be 5 April 2022.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.waitingtimes@phs.scot.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

To report any issues with a publication, please email phs.generalpublications@phs.scot.

Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 13 June 2022
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