The cost of on the day surgical cancellations/delays

Rachel McLean
Rachel McLean • 24 February 2023

SusQI project completed as part of The Christie Green Team Competition from September to December 2022.

Setting/Patient Group: Trust-wide

Issue to be addressed:

Surgical list delays and cancellations due to unavailability of post-surgical beds in the hospital have financial, social and environmental impacts.


  1. Process mapping to identify ‘hotspots’ of waste during delayed or cancelled procedures.
  2. Staff survey to measure social impacts
  3. Aim to use above results to support future introduction of the Golden patient initiative (bed space confirmed the day before surgery)



  • Over 12 months, there were;
    • 31 cases of on the day cancellations due to unavailability of beds
    • Equivalent of 8 full day operating lists worth of delayed theatre start due to waiting for bed confirmation


  • 71% of staff in agreement of need for proposed changes in regards to cancellation and delays.
  • Changes would increase service efficiency.
  • Less inconvenience and better experience for patients


  • A 50% reduction in cancellations and 20% reduction in overrun could lead to savings of 870.9 kg CO2e. This is equivalent to 2,508.3 miles driven in an average car


  • Potential saving: A 50% reduction in cancellations and 20% reduction in overrun could lead to savings of £7,020.49.

Key learning point

This project highlighted the social cost to both patients and staff of current process, delays and cancellation. ‘The golden patient’ initiative will not increase the number of beds available in the hospital however could improve staff and patient satisfaction.


Click here for more information on the Green Team Competition (including organisation impact reports)

Resource author(s)
Maestreania A and Tabern A
Resource publishing organisation(s) or journal
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust 
Resource publication date
December 2022

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