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Winter crisis looms early

Despite the recent mild weather and with the flu season yet to really kick in, NHS statistics are showing signs that hospitals are already facing a winter crisis. Figures show a 42% rise in cancelled operations as more than 2,000 surgical procedures were cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice over a 10-day period.

The highest numbers of cancelled operations between 4 and 13 November revealed by the NHS England Daily Situation Reports include 161 at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, 104 at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and 82 at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Foundation Trust.

The figures, the first of a series of weekly seasonal reports to monitor winter pressures, also show that more than 3,000 elderly patients a day who are medically well have been confined to hospital because health and social services have not provided help to discharge them - a 23% rise on last year.