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5 January 2016, 15:21
More than 500 patients in one month had planned hospital operations cancelled due to factors including a lack of beds, staff and equipment.
Official figures show that in November there were 31,747 scheduled operations across NHS Scotland, of which 3,064 (9.7%) were cancelled either by the patient or the hospital.
A total of 540 (1.7%) were cancelled by the hospital due to ''capacity or non-clinical reasons'', a slight decrease from 549 the previous month.
Reasons can include the unavailability of beds, staff and equipment as well as employee illness, dirty equipment and theatre sessions overrunning.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "We are always working with health boards to make sure we manage capacity and planning, to keep cancellations to a minimum.
"However, on occasion, planned operations may need to rescheduled and these decisions are never taken lightly.
"Health boards work to ensure disruption to patients is always kept to an absolute minimum, and any postponed procedures will be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity.
"We have made it clear to boards that patients with the greatest clinical need, such as cancer patients, should not have their operations cancelled.''
Ms Robison said NHS staff numbers are at a record high, and she highlighted a 10% increase in medical staff working within surgical specialities as well as plans to invest #200 million in six new elective treatment centres.
But Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume said the cancellations figure is "still far too high''.
He said: "Across Scotland, there were almost 20 operations cancelled per day in November for non-clinical reasons.
``Patients should not be forced to wait longer for operations as they should receive the care they need as quickly as possible.
``Scottish Liberal Democrats want to ensure there is no complacency in providing support to hospitals and staff so they have all the resources they need.''