Almost 70,000 operations were cancelled in the NHS in England last year due to a lack of beds, staff or equipment, according to new figures.
The numbers, obtained by the Daily Mirror through Freedom of Information requests, were described by Labour as “nothing short of a scandal”.
And the true total could be higher, as only 138 out of 170 NHS trusts responded to the paper’s query.
In total, the trusts which replied reported 214,000 non-clinical cancellations in 2017/18, up 9% on the previous year and 29% on the 166,000 recorded in 2013/14.
Of these, some 29,869 were caused by a lack of beds – up 59% on the 18,783 seen in 2013/14. Staff shortages were blamed for 29,550 cancellations – up 73%. And 10,334 procedures were halted due to equipment or theatres being unavailable – a rise of 48%.
Shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth told the Mirror: “Behind these statistics are thousands of people waiting longer and longer in pain and anxiety for an operation, with huge risks their health will deteriorate further.
“Ministers should hang their heads in shame for what they have done to our NHS.”
A spokesman for the NHS said: “Despite significant pressure, in England fewer than 1% of operations are postponed on the day, with just 0.9% cancelled in the last three months, and nurses, doctors and NHS leaders across the country are also rightly prioritising emergency patients over winter.”