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 the day of treatment. Note that due to technical issues, NHS Lothian have been unable to provide data from October 2022 onwards. These data have also been excluded from NHSScotland totals.

8 March 2023: An error was found in the background tables affecting figures for October and November 2022. This has now been fixed in the published tables

Main points

  • During January 2023 there were 17,539 operations planned to take place across NHSScotland (excl. NHS Lothian). This represents an increase of 1.6% compared to the 17,269 planned for December 2022 and is 32.3% higher than the number planned a year previously in January 2022.
Image caption Total planned operations and percentage of cancelled planned operations, by reason, up to January 2023
  • Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when planned care service capacity was severely impacted, the underlying trend for the monthly number of planned operations has been moving upwards, however activity remains lower than that occurring prior to the pandemic. For instance, when comparing to January 2020, there were 28.1% fewer operations planned.
  • During January 2023, 9% of all planned operations were cancelled the day before or on the day the patient was due to be treated for NHSScotland (excl. NHS Lothian). This has decreased from 10.6% during the previous month but remains comparable to pre-pandemic levels (9.3% in January 2020). Across NHS Boards, this percentage ranged from 4.4% to 12.4%.
  • Of all cancelled planned operations during January 2023, for NHSScotland (excl. NHS Lothian) 552 (3.1%) were cancelled by the hospital based on clinical reasons, 420 (2.4%) were cancelled by the hospital due to capacity or non-clinical reasons, 575 (3.3%) were cancelled by the patient, and 35 (0.2%) 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 our website.

These statistics continue to be affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be 4 April 2023.

NHS Performs

A selection of information from this publication is included in NHS Performs. NHS Performs is a website that brings together a range of information on how hospitals and NHS Boards within NHSScotland are performing.

General enquiries

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

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

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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: 08 March 2023
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