PATIENTS in Helensburgh and Lomond are among those hit by operations cancelled for capacity or non-clinical reasons so far this year, according to local MSP Jackie Baillie.

Data published by ISD Scotland shows that 122 operations in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area were cancelled in March, which adds to 139 in January and 70 in February, bringing the total for the first three months of the year to 331.

Ms Baillie said: “The 331 cancelled operations in Greater Glasgow and Clyde represent 331 people in the area who are waiting, in pain, for treatment that hospitals in the area have been unable to give.

“I deal with numerous cases on a daily basis of people who have had operations cancelled or who are waiting months in agony for treatment which hospitals are unable to provide because they are over-worked and under-resourced.

“This failure is just another example of SNP health secretary Shona Robison’s inability to manage the demand and scale of the operation facing our NHS. It is time she stepped aside and put patients before herself.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Boards have been working to keep cancellations to a minimum, supported by an extra £22.4 million from the Scottish Government for winter and unscheduled care pressures.

“We’ve made clear to boards that patients with the greatest clinical need, such as cancer patients, should not have their operations cancelled.”

A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde added: “We do our best not to postpone any planned procedures but, as with every other board across Scotland, the first three months of this year were extremely challenging and when we are experiencing a sustained high demand for emergency medical care we have, unfortunately, to reschedule non-urgent planned inpatient procedures.

“We make arrangements to re-book these patients as soon as possible at a date that suits them.”

Ms Baillie, in another attack this week on the Scottish Government, claimed that a “broken promise” on delayed discharge by Ms Robison, has continued to push up costs for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Figures published this week show that in March 2018, 5,119 days were spent in hospital across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde by people whose discharge was delayed.

Ms Baillie said: “The SNP Government’s mismanagement of our health service continues, with the costs of delayed discharge increasing all the time. That is money that could have been reinvested in our health service to improve patient care.

“Many of the delays in discharging patients stem from social care issues and delays in care assessments, all a result of the SNP Government slashing local authority budgets year on year, stretching an already overstretched workforce to breaking point.

“This health secretary’s crisis management approach to the NHS is affecting patients. It is time she put patients and families first and stepped aside to make way for someone who can improve our health service.”

Ms Robison replied: “Scottish Government policy is clear – when a patient is assessed as requiring care and support on discharge from hospital we expect local health and social care partnerships to ensure appropriate support is provided.

"Figures published last year show that the number of bed days lost to delay in 2015-16 was down three per cent on the previous year, building on the nine per cent reduction in 2014-15.

"Bed days associated with delay have been under the level of the previous year for 35 of the last 36 months, going back to February 2015.”

“We continue to support health and social care partnerships to reduce delays, investing almost half a billion pounds of additional funds into social care and integration this year, while the health revenue budget will also increase by almost £2bn by 2021.”

A health board spokesman said: “Our staff continue to work very hard to ensure patients attending all our hospitals are treated as quickly as possible.

“Work with our local authority partners on a range of successful initiatives have made significant improvements on delayed discharge numbers over the last few years.

“It is our aim to ensure that people are discharged from hospital as soon as they are ready but if they are delayed our staff strive to provide the highest standards of care while they remain in our care.

“A number of patients whose discharge is delayed will be waiting for a suitable care package or are very frail people waiting to go home or go to a care setting in their final days."