9,000 operations cancelled - FG


Figures released to Fine Gael show that almost 9,000 operations were cancelled in Ireland's public hospitals in the first six months of this year.

The figures, received by Fine Gael in response to a parliamentary question, show a 27 per cent increase on figures for the same period in 2008.

A total of 8,935 operations were cancelled in the first six months since January 2009. Of these, 2,594 were scheduled for day patients and 6,341 were scheduled for in-patients.

The latest figures bring the total number of cancelled operations since 2007 to over 40,000.

“It is depressing that figures I sought from the HSE confirm that the gridlock in our hospitals continues to see patients’ procedures cancelled. At 8,935 the number of cancelled operations in the first half of the year is well up on the same period in 2008," Fine Gael health spokesperson, Dr James Reilly TD, said in a statement issued this morning.

"The 7,037 cancelled operations by June 2008 more than doubled to 16,316 by year end which suggests 20,000 operations may be cancelled by the end of this year," he added.

This afternoon, the HSE said cancellations were a feature of hospital systems in order to give priority to emergency cases and patients in urgent need.

"Given the need for prioritisation it is occasionally necessary to postpone elective procedures. It is important to point out that all cancelled procedures are rescheduled. In Ireland the level of cancellations is broadly in line with other hospital systems internationally," the HSE said in a statement.

The executive said the number of cancellations are in line with figures from previous years and was linked to an increase in the numbers of scheduled procedures.

"The increase in the number of cancellations cited by Dr Reilly is linked to the increase in activity in hospitals rather than a significant increase in the number of cancellations alone."

The Adelaide & Meath Hopsital Inc NCH had the most cancellations with 291 planned admissions for day cases cancelled and 937 in-patient operations cancelled.

Beaumont Hospital recorded 179 cancellations for day cases and 742 cancellations of operations for in-patients. Cork University Hospital had 571 cancellations for day cases and 309 cancellations of operations for in-patients.

Of the 39 hospitals detailed in the figures, ten hospitals recorded no cancellations.

“I have also analysed INO trolley figures which show the average daily number of patients on trolleys was 267 this year so far, compared to 230 for the same period last year. It is clear that ongoing A&E overcrowding and delayed discharges from acute beds lead to cancelled operations," Dr Reilly said.

"Scandalously 40,000 operations have been cancelled since 2007," he said.

“Cancelled operations have a real impact on patients – postponing important procedures, prolonging pain and delaying investigations which may lead to early detection of serious illnesses. Patients whose procedures are postponed, having suffered prolonged and unnecessary pain, may then develop into an emergency to be dealt with at A&E," Dr Reilly added.

“This broken system is vastly inefficient and costly to the taxpayer and it is a vicious circle for the patients who are left to wait on all sides - on trolleys in A&E; in acute beds after their acute phase of care has ended; and, worst of all, in pain as their operations are cancelled.”