Operations that are cancelled days before they are due to take place are not being recorded in official NHS figures.

Data published by NHS England shows that less than 1% of operations are cancelled ‘at the last minute’.

The definition of last-minute means the procedure was cancelled on the day the patient was scheduled to be admitted or have the operation.

However, the official figures do not include operations that are cancelled in the days beforehand.

Under a Freedom of Information request, the BBC asked hospital Trusts in England to provide the number of operations cancelled one to three days before admission due to non-medical reasons.

Of the 156 Trusts, 74 responded with data showing that 41,474 operations were cancelled last year within one to three days of the scheduled date of admission.

This is higher than the official figures, which show that 33,400 operations were cancelled at the last-minute.

A shortage of beds and staff were the most common causes of operation cancellations.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patient’s Association, said the experience can be very troubling for the patient and their loved ones.

“You can’t underestimate the upset for them, their family, their friends and everyone else if an operation is cancelled”, she said.

“We are talking about individuals who are often in pain or suffering. They will have made lots of arrangements. It can have a huge psychological or financial impact on people.”

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