Hospitals cancelled 20,000 operations last year


More than 20,000 operations were cancelled by 30 hospitals in the State last year, according to a report in today's Irish Times.

Figures obtained by the paper show one of the main reasons for these cancellations in a number of hospitals was a shortage of beds.

Other reasons for the cancellations, which averaged almost 400 a week, included equipment breaking down, outbreaks of the winter vomiting bug, hospital staff being away, nurse shortages, no anaesthetic cover available, theatre lists being overbooked and patients being clinically unfit for surgery.

There were also instances where patients had never been informed of their appointment in the first place. And in a significant number of instances patients themselves were responsible for the surgery not going ahead, as they either cancelled the operation or did not turn up.

The data comes from information released to The Irish Timesby individual hospitals under the Freedom of Information Act.

It shows the largest number of procedures were cancelled in 2004 at Galway regional hospitals (University College Hospital Galway and Merlin Park Regional Hospital) where more than 4,000 operations were cancelled.

There were also more than 2,000 operations cancelled at Dublin's Tallaght hospital and close to 2,000 cancelled at St James's and Beaumont hospitals, also in Dublin.

More than 1,000 operations were cancelled at Cork University Hospital, the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore and Waterford Regional Hospital.

And around 800 operations were cancelled at the Mater hospital, Dublin, and at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. The main reasons for these cancellations varied from hospital to hospital.

At our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, where 819 operations were cancelled, some 765 of these were attributed to bed shortages.

Likewise at Letterkenny General Hospital, bed shortages were blamed for 1,262 of the 1,352 operations which had to be cancelled last year.