Praise for NHS staff as operation numbers on rise despite severe weather

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The ‘tremendous’ efforts of the NHS have been praised by the Scottish health secretary after figures show the number of operations taking place in March rose despite the severe weather.

March saw unseasonably cold weather bite across the country and Scotland faced its first ever red weather alert.

Travel conditions were treacherous in many places and the army provided assistance to get NHS staff and patients to and from some hospitals through the severe snow.

Figures published today (Tuesday) show that across Scotland 25, 399 operations took place in March compared to 23,664 the previous month – a rise of 7.3 per cent.

And this is despite evidence from some NHS boards that the weather accounted for the majority of cancellations for capacity or non-clinical reasons.

A spokesperson for NHS Forth Valley said around 70 operations of the 122 cancelled for capacity or non-clinical reasons had to be rescheduled due to the bad weather at the beginning of March.

She added: “Others were cancelled due to more urgent emergency and trauma cases which can happen at any time of year.

“Every effort is made to reschedule cancelled operations as soon as possible.”

Health secretary Shona Robison said: “Despite a challenging winter for the NHS and severe weather in early March, our winter contingency planning with health boards saw more operations take place in March than February.

“The efforts of health and social care staff were tremendous and I am extremely grateful for their oongoing commitment to deliver exemplary care.

“Severe weather and warnings not to travel did mean many staff could not get to hospital and this level of disruption takes hospitals time to recover from.

“Despite that, on average 820 operations a day took place and feedback from boards has shown that the clear majority of cancellations for capacity or non-clinical reasons in March was due to the adverse weather.”