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NHS operating theatres in England ‘wasting two hours a day’

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Study reportedly claims better organisation could result in extra 280,000 non-emergency operations each year

About 280,000 additional non-emergency operations could be carried out each year if NHS schedules were better organised, a study has reportedly said.

An analysis of operating theatres across 100 NHS trusts in England found more than two hours a day were wasted on the average procedure list.

The study by NHS Improvement says time was lost on avoidable factors such as late starts for operations that had been planned in advance, the BBC reported.

A total of 1.64m routine operations were carried out in 2016, the period analysed by the watchdog. They included surgical procedures on the ear, nose and throat, eye operations and orthopaedic medicine.

The study, to be published on Tuesday morning, reportedly says improvements could be made through more effective planning, reducing late starts and early finishes rather than making surgeons work harder.

Richard Kerr of the Royal College of Surgeons told the BBC: “I think the NHS can always be more efficient and I think people have worked very hard to try to make it more efficient, but I don’t think those savings are going to resolve the ever-increasing demand that is being put on the health service.”

NHS Improvement researchers did not include operation lists that were cancelled or any unused time that was less than average for a surgeon. The study also allowed for 5% of time to be lost due to last-minute cancellations.