Increase in operations cancelled at the last minute at the Royal Free Hospital

The Royal Free Hospital in Pond Street

The Royal Free Hospital in Pond Street - Credit: Nigel Sutton

The number of operations cancelled at the last minute by the Royal Free Hospital has increased significantly in the past three months.

The hospital aims for less than 0.8 per cent of all operations to be postponed. However, in the last financial year, the figure was 1.54 per cent.

The biggest increase occurred from January to March. Figures provided at a hospital board meeting on April 25 show long patient lists was the number one cause, accounting for 22 per cent of all cancelled operations.

Some 17 per cent of last-minute cancellations was put down to lack of beds, while faulty equipment accounted for 10 per cent.

A spokesman for the Royal Free said: “Unfortunately there was a slight increase in the number of operations postponed at short notice from January to March 2013.

“Cancellations occur for a number of reasons, including winter pressures, emergency patients such as transplant patients taking priority, and when we have to cancel operations scheduled at the end of the day because previous procedures overran due to clinical complexity.”

Of the 584 patients whose operations were affected, 582 were rescheduled within a month.