Almost 900 heart and chest surgeries cancelled in 21 months

New data shows a ‘concerning’ number of surgeries cancelled for non-medical reasons

Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin had the highest number of cancelled surgeries, at 262, according to HSE figures. Photograph: Getty Images

Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin had the highest number of cancelled surgeries, at 262, according to HSE figures. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Almost 900 heart and chest surgeries have been cancelled in public hospitals since the start of last year, according to new figures.

On 119 occasions, patients’ cardiothoracic surgeries were cancelled because there was no bed, while 43 surgeries were cancelled due to “clerical error”, the figures provided by the Health Service Executive show.

Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin had the highest number of cancelled surgeries, at 262, followed by Cork University Hospital, with 252.

Sinn Féin health spokeswoman Louise O’Reilly, who was provided with the figures by the HSE, said the fact that an average of 43 surgeries are cancelled every month was a “serious cause for concern”.

No available beds

“But what is even more concerning is the number of surgeries cancelled for non-medical reasons, such as a clerical error, no available beds, or because there was no theatre time.”

The cancellations are linked to broader problems relating to a lack of capacity in hospitals resulting from years of underinvestment and the inability of the HSE to retain staff, she suggested.

“These cancellations also cause serious inconvenience for patients and their families as people have arranged childcare, taken time off work, or arranged for rehabilitation treatment and then, surgery is cancelled and they become part of an endless waiting list.”

Hospitals are sometimes forced to cancel elective surgery when admissions spike and their emergency departments become overcrowded.