Chemotherapy sessions for children with cancer postponed

Crumlin children’s hospital blames demand on available beds for deferring treatments

Parents of sick children attending Crumlin children’s hospital have been told that on occasion there are not enough staff to administer chemo. Photograph: Google Street View

The postponement of chemotherapy sessions at Crumlin children’s hospital due to a lack of available beds has been described as “outrageous”.

The hospital has expressed “sincere regret” that it has been forced to postpone the admission of sick children with cancer due to rising bed demand caused by a surge in respiratory virus cases.

So far this month, the hospital has had to postpone five inpatient admissions for cancer treatment. Three were delayed by one day and two were delayed by two days, according to a spokesman.

“All patients impacted have commenced their treatment and are back on their planned schedule of treatment,” he said.


Parents of sick children attending the hospital said they were told that on occasion there are not enough staff to administer chemo.

John Glynn, of the childhood cancer charity The Gavin Glynn Foundation, said he had received messages from families who were unable to have chemo in recent days at the hospital and were told "sorry, we don't have any staff available to administer the chemo".

The hospital spokesman said “periodically” admission dates are changed for reasons including demand on beds.

“Crumlin is very cognisant of the impact on patients with cancer and their families that a change in admission for chemotherapy has and sincerely regrets that on occasion deferment of planned a admission occurs,” he said.

“The decision to delay admission is not undertaken lightly and when such a decision is made, it is made the priority at all times is to ensure a safe environment, with the safe delivery of care to all patients.”

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association said the cancellations were a troubling aspect of the Government’s failure to invest in adequate bed capacity in hospitals.

“This has left our hospitals, such as in Crumlin, unable to provide for both planned essential care, such as chemotherapy for cancer, and the annual predictable increase in patients’ requirements for hospital care due to illnesses such as respiratory conditions or flu.”

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Stephen Donnelly called on the Government to respond immediately.

“This is outrageous. Parents are worried sick - parents who are already suffering unimaginable pressure. I and other TDs have repeatedly warned of the dangers of understaffing. I’ve also provided solutions to them, like ending the hiring embargo and new entrant pay inequality. But the Government refuses to act and the children suffer as a result,” he concluded.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.