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 March 2022 was 22,000. This represents an increase of 17% from 18,802 in February 2022 and is 23.9% higher than the number planned in March 2021. When compared to February 2020, prior to the pandemic, there were 20.4% fewer operations planned, down from 27,645. The number of operations that services are able to schedule continues to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Image caption Total planned operations and percentage of cancelled planned operations, by reason, up to March 2022
  • In March 2022, 2,109 operations, or 9.6% of all planned operations, were cancelled the day before or on the day the patient was due to be treated. This rate is the highest since the onset of the pandemic and is comparable to pre-pandemic levels, which can be attributed to an increase in the rate of cancellations by patients (3.4%), which is now also similar to the rate seen before the start of the pandemic.
  • Across NHSScotland, the rate of cancelled planned operations (%) ranged from 3.5% to 13.6% for 14 out of the 15 boards while NHS Highland reported 22.1% - this high rate was due to limited bed capacity, following a high number of COVID-19 patients.


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 7 June 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: 21 March 2024
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