New statistics show that the number of cancelled urgent operations in the NHS has risen by a fifth over the last year.
According to official data from the Department of Health, in December 2011 there were 389 urgent operations cancelled in December, compared with 322 in December 2010.
Urgent operations included heart bypass and cancer surgery.
However, the rise has been attributed to local problems in a small number of hospitals- apparently just 6 trusts were responsible for a third of all urgent operations cancelled in December 2011.
Health Minister Simon Burns said: "The number of cancelled urgent operations remains very low compared to the total number of operations carried out in the NHS — approximately 0.05 per cent and has reduced slightly on last month.
"The NHS must continue to do everything it can to ensure operations are not cancelled and when they are that patients are offered treatment as soon as possible.”
But critics say that the figures show that the government has lost control of the NHS after relaxing labour targets.
This comes after news that five wards have been closed at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, because of an outbreak of norovirus, forcing doctors to postpone 37 operations.
Recent reports also show that the number of patients spending more than four hours in Accident and Emergency has jumped 40 per cent in a year. The figure rose to nearly 900,000 in 2010/11 compared with just fewer than 600,000 in the 12 months before.
Andy Burnham, Labour’s health spokesman, accused the Government of pushing the NHS “to the edge of a cliff”. He said:
“This is exactly what we warned would happen when they relaxed waiting times targets and launched the biggest top-down costly reorganisation of the NHS.”
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012