Hundreds of NHS operations are cancelled every day as A&E departments struggle to cope under record-breaking strain.
In the first two weeks of December 2014, 3,113 planned ‘elective’ operations were cancelled, many only hours before the surgery or after patients has already been admitted into hospital. The figure represents a 16% rise on the same period the previous year.
Labour say the rise is because of growing numbers of older people forced to turn to A&E in the wake of adult social care cuts.
Over the same period, 161 urgent and potentially life-saving operations were also cancelled at short notice – up from 138 in 2013.
The first fortnight of December saw a record 159,04 patients being admitted into hospital from A&E departments – up from 150,482 last year. Monday 8 December was the worst day of the winter so far, with 410 ‘elective’ operations cancelled at short notice.
A&E departments also saw a shocking 17,886 patients left waiting for admittance on hospital trolleys for up to 12 hours, more than double the 7,684 for the same period last year.
Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: “This is yet another sign that, under David Cameron, the NHS is simply not working.
“Standards of patient care are slipping by the week and now more and more people get ready for an operation only to face a last minute postponement.
“The chaos in A&E is spreading through the NHS. Hospitals are in danger of becoming overwhelmed as the Government takes social care away from older people and makes it harder to see a GP. These cancellations help to explain why operation waiting lists are at a six-year high.
“Labour will rescue the NHS with £2.5 billion extra each year – over and above Tory plans – to invest in a new workforce, including 20,000 extra nurses and 8,000 GPs.
“People can see the NHS has gone downhill under this Government. It shows you can’t trust the Tories with it. This is why the NHS is set to be a decisive issue at the election.”