ALMOST 300 operations were cancelled at the last minute by Barnsley Hospital last year, new figures have revealed.

The British Medical Association called then cancellations the sign of a ‘creaking’ NHS system.

Figures from NHS England show 296 operations were cancelled by Barnsley Hospital in 2023.

This was more than the 212 operations cancelled the year before and up from 211 in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.

These were cancellations on the day of the appointment or after the patient had arrived at hospital - rather than operations rearranged in advance.

NHS guidance says this can happen for a variety of reasons, including surgeons becoming unavailable, emergency cases needing to be dealt with, or administrative errors.

The NHS has a target of rebooking operations within 28 days of a cancellation - but 12.8 per cent of cancellations did not hit that target at Barnsley Hospital.

By contrast, in 2019 1.4 per cent were not rebooked in that timeframe.

Across England, the number of cancelled operations for non-clinical reasons has dropped by more than 11,000 compared to before the pandemic - there were 75,120 in 2023, down from 86,364 in 2019.

Despite this, far fewer patients are being rebooked within the 28-day target.

In 2019, 7,573 did not receive a new appointment in the same month, compared to 17,995 last year.

The British Medical Association said with ‘better planning and greater capacity’ these cancellations could be avoided.

An NHS spokesperson said: “Since December 2022 the NHS has had to reschedule more than 1.3 million acute inpatient and outpatient appointments due to industrial action, and while staff have worked incredibly hard to reschedule these as quickly as possible, the ongoing strikes have meant the capacity to do this has been constrained.”

It is possible some last-minute cancellations may have been caused by strikes if the operation was not rescheduled in time, but most operations moved due to industrial action will not appear in the above statistics.

The spokesperson continued: “Despite this, latest figures show hard working NHS staff delivered more elective activity in 2023 than in any other year since the start of the pandemic - with more than 17.3 million treated - meaning the elective waiting list has fallen for the third consecutive month in December.”

A Barnsley Hospital spokesperson told the Chronicle: “The hospital carries out around 30,000 planned operations each year, and we continually review the number of cancellations to ensure issues are fully understood, and improvements made wherever possible.

“Regrettably, some operations are cancelled on the day, often for reasons beyond the hospital’s control such as surgeon sickness, the patient not being fit for surgery, patient-initiated cancellation, or a previous operation taking longer than expected.

“We encourage anyone awaiting a procedure to follow the advice and guidance offered by their clinician to ensure we are able to provide safe and effective care.”