Children’s operations halted by burst pipe at Temple Street

Two days of surgery cancelled at hospital after operating theatres flooded

Staff at Temple Street children’s hospital expressed frustration at the situation and described it as a “disgrace” that modern-day healthcare was provided in such dilapidated conditions. Photograph: Eric Luke

Staff at Temple Street children’s hospital expressed frustration at the situation and described it as a “disgrace” that modern-day healthcare was provided in such dilapidated conditions. Photograph: Eric Luke

Fri, Jul 25, 2014, 01:04

Two days of surgery had to be cancelled at Temple Street children’s hospital in Dublin this week after a water pipe ruptured in the 140-year-old building, flooding operating theatres underneath.

Just one of the hospital’s four theatres was left in usable condition as a result of the incident on Wednesday and was subsequently set aside to deal with emergency procedures.

Staff at the hospital have expressed frustration at the situation and described it as a “disgrace” that modern-day healthcare is provided in such dilapidated conditions.

While the exact number of cancelled surgeries is unclear, senior medical sources say about 20 elective procedures are usually carried out on a daily basis, the more serious ones often involving neurosurgery, transplants, spinal and other procedures.

A hospital statement said treatment affected yesterday and today was limited mainly to “general surgery, ENT [ear, nose and throat] and orthopaedic surgery”.

Priority cases were dealt with in the remaining facility and further procedures that required priority attention were rescheduled and would be carried out within the appropriate timeframe, it said.

All theatres are expected to be operating as normal by the end of today.

However, one hospital source, indicating broader frustration among staff, said: “It’s an utter disgrace that we still do not have a modern building for our children’s hospital.”

 

140th anniversary

Last year, staff at Temple Street – regularly praised for their dedicated care and treatment of young patients – celebrated the 140th anniversary of the institution.

 

But there is annoyance that the ageing building is still deemed acceptable as a location for care provision.

“I can’t understand how the building in Temple Street can get a fire licence [safety certificate] because if there was a significant fire there, it’s full of small narrow corridors and wooden stairs.

“The building is a disgrace, and people should not allow their children to be treated in these conditions.”

The source explained that even after the pipe is fixed, the operating theatres will have to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised.

 

‘Very dated’

Describing the facilities as “very dated”, another source said there had been “renovations in the recent past that have made improvements but you are dealing with an [old] hospital”.

 

A spokeswoman confirmed that surgeries were postponed but that steps were taken to limit the impact on patients.

In a statement, she said: “Any cases that needed to be prioritised were looked after in the remaining ‘open’ emergency theatre this morning [Thursday].”

One of the three theatres affected was due to open this morning, with the remaining two by close of business this afternoon, “once all air handling and infection control checks have taken place to ensure safety and welfare of all patients and staff”.

“Any parents whose child’s surgery had to be postponed will receive a letter from Temple Street over the coming days setting a new date for surgery, but again any surgery that needs to be prioritised will be conducted within the necessary timeframes set for that surgery.”

While the building is 140 years old, the operating theatres were most recently refurbished in 2010.

Temple Street children’s hospital began life in 1872 as a modest eight-bed facility and expanded throughout the years to today’s 155 beds.