Tribute to workers killed in accidents Nearly a quarter of operations cancelled
24.3 per cent of ops called off due to staff shortages
West Lothian joined in a worldwide day of remembrance to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day.
The day of remembrance for workers killed in accidents at work, or by diseases caused by work, is marked in countries across the world.
The We s t Lot h i a n ceremony in Balbardie Park of Peace in Bathgate, featured an introduction from George Paul, chair of the West Lothian Trade Union Council (TUC), with an opening comment from Provost Tom Kerr.
Speakers were Martyn Day MP and Neil Findlay MSP representing the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC), and the event also included prayers and the laying of floral tributes. The poignant ceremony was brought to a close with a minute’s silence, followed by the ‘Flowers of the Forest’ lament by piper Grant Walker from Boghall and Bathgate Pipe Band.
Provost Tom Kerr said: “International Workers’ Memorial Day is an important event that highlights the need for better health and safety. The council is delighted to support it, and we would like to thank Jim Swan and West Lothian Trade Union Council for organising it.”
Almost a quarter of operations were cancelled by NHS Lothian last year due to staffing shortages.
New figures revealed 24.3 per cent of scheduled ops were scrapped because of capacity issues.
The number of procedures cancelled by the health board due to capacity or non-medical reasons in 2017/18 was 1660.
Health bosses have been accused of “mismanagement” in not ensuring enough staff members are on hand to allow operations to go ahead.
MSP Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative health spokesman, said: “In the past year almost a quarter of operations that were cancelled by NHS Lothian were due to capacity issues.
“Over the last 11 years SNP Ministers have mismanaged the workforce planning of our NHS to the extent that we now have a staffing crisis.
“Instead of trying to secure a second independence referendum, Sturgeon should be focussed on tackling the immediate problems in our health system that affect Scots every day.”
The figures revealed that NHS Borders had the largest number of operations cancelled because of staffing shortages at 51.8 per cent and next was the Golden Jubilee National Hospital with 42.3 per cent.
NHS Fife cancelled 39.9 per cent of ops while NHS Forth Valley cancelled 34.5.
The total number of operations cancelled due to capacity reasons in Scotland as a whole was 8124, or 25.1 per cent.
Jacquie Campbell, chief officer, NHS Lothian said operations are only cancelled as a last resort.
“We apologise to anyone who had their operation rescheduled. We know it can cause inconvenience for patients, and I would assure them that it is a decision that is never taken lightly,” she said.
“There are unavoidable circumstances which mean sometimes operations have to be rescheduled, including emergency admissions which obviously have to receive priority, be treated quickly, and cannot be planned for.
“Although we are performing better than the Scottish average, we recognise there is more to do.”
Labour MSP Neil Findlay said staffing levels need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“Here is yet more evidence of our NHS under huge pressure,” he said. “An increase in cancelled operations sees more people left in pain, more people in distress and more people unable to live life to the full.
“Our NHS has to be staffed appropriately to ensure that it can treat people at their time of need without leaving staff overwhelmed and unable to cope.”
However, SNP MSP Fiona Hyslop defended the Scottish Government, saying it was helping health boards to avoid cancellations.
She said: “The Scottish Government continues to support health boards to keep all cancellations to a minimum through better scheduling and planning of elective care.
“In 2017/ 18, 830 operations were carried out each day on average across Scotland, which compares with around 22 operations cancelled for capacity or non-clinical reasons.
“NHS Scotland staff numbers under this Government are at a record high, and the SNP Government has committed to an additional 2600 nursing and midwifery training places as well as additional medical training places over this parliamentary session.
“The Scottish Government is working with health boards to reduce the number of cancellations and to reduce waits.
“Th e e l e c t i v e a c c e s s collaborative programme and the modern out-patient programme, which is being developed, are about improving the position, and they will continue to work on them – and they will remain focused on ensuring that the number of operations that are cancelled for reasons that are not clinical is kept to an absolute minimum.”