CANCELLED surgeries have become a “fact of life” in Irish hospitals, with 62 operations being cancelled so far this year in the University Hospital Limerick (UHL) because there were no beds available.
Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan said the cancelled surgeries are “the result of the cruelest of public spending cuts.
“49 surgeries were cancelled at UHL in 2016 because no bed was available. So far in the first six months of 2017, we have had 62 cancellation due to no bed being available,” he said.
While figures obtained by the Limerick Post show that 799 surgeries were cancelled so far this year, hospital management say that in seven out of ten cases, the procedures were cancelled for reasons outside of the control of the hospital, including no-shows by patients.
However Deputy Quinlivan said that while many surgeries were cancelled for reasons beyond the control of either the patient or the hospital, the increasing rate of surgeries being cancelled because no bed is available in Limerick was not acceptable.
“Two surgeries are being cancelled every week this year because there is no bed available. This will be twice the number of 2016 if the increasing trend continues.
“Many patients who have waited a long time for life changing surgery are being told hours before their appointment, that their surgery won’t be going ahead. Many then find themselves back in a queue. This is a cruel and heartless way to treat seriously ill individuals. They have prepared, fasted, worried about the procedure, and are then told at the last minute that their long-awaited surgery is not going ahead”.
In a statement, the hospital group management said, “it is always regrettable when a procedure has to be cancelled and every effort is made to facilitate patients by rescheduling the procedure as soon as possible”.
The hospital said that the figures show that “the unavailability of beds was a factor in less than five per cent of cancellations. Procedures may also be cancelled due to theatre over-runs; high volumes of emergency or trauma cases; and other reasons. Cancer surgery and other urgent cases are protected under escalation measures.
“In 69 per cent of cases, the procedures were either cancelled by the patients or they were deemed medically unfit for surgery.
“Average length of stay for surgical patients and surgical readmission rates are within the national targets and among the best in the country. Last year, 87 per cent of elective surgical inpatients had their principal procedure carried out on the day of admission, the best in the country and well above the national target of 75 per cent,” the statement concluded.
Read similar stories in the Limerick Post Health section.