Theatres lying idle - report


A review of the three Dublin children’s hospitals which found they were significantly under-using their operating theatres was carried out during an “extraordinary week” for the health system, the hospitals have said.

The review by Meridian Productivity found that capacity planning did “not seem to be an element of management” in any of the hospitals and planned surgeries were being put on hold because of a lack of dedicated emergency theatres.

The unpublished report was commissioned in 2009 by the HSE to compare the services, performance levels and efficiencies across the three sites and make recommendations in line with international best practice.

In a joint statement tonight Temple Street, Our Lady's Children’s Hospital in Crumlin and the National Children’s Hospital Tallaght said the review took place in a week where hospitals were struggling to deal with a “peaking swine flu crisis” resulting in the cancellation of a range of elective admissions with “a knock on effect to theatre utilisation”.

However it said that since the review took place in late 2009, improvements have been implemented including the appointment of Dr Colm Costigan as a clinical director of all three hospitals.

Minister for Health James Reilly said he had not seen the report but that it was “shameful” that children would have to wait for operations. Most recent figures show that there are more that 500 children on waiting lists for operations at the hospitals.

“It underscores the belief that I’ve held for a long time that lack of organisation and poor management rather than money are at the heart of significant problems within our health service,” Mr Reilly told RTÉ news.

Temple Street and Our Lady's Children’s Hospital in Crumlin were only using their theatres 57 per cent of the time and the National Children’s Hospital Tallaght had a 68 per cent utilisation. Best practice recommended an 85 per cent utilisation, according to the report.

The hospitals said tonight that they have an agreed target of 70 per cent theatre utilization and consistently utilize their theatres well in excess of this target.