Bed shortage led to cancellation of 170 operations

A shortage of beds was directly responsible for the cancellation of more than 170 operations at Kerry General Hospital (KGH) between 2010 and 2012.

While the overall cancellation figure for the three-year period was 1,294, there were other factors, besides bed shortages, at play, according to the Health Service Executive (HSE) area manager for Kerry, Michael Fitzgerald.

These included patients who failed to show up for appointments or who themselves cancelled the operation, Mr Fitzgerald said.

Also driving up the overall figure was the number of patients assessed as unfit for surgery, he said.

Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris said it needed to be recognised that there were people behind these statistics.

“It can be very distressing for patients and their families to have scheduled surgeries cancelled because of reasons outside of their control,” Mr Ferris said.

The figures showed that:

* In 2010, 381 surgeries were cancelled out a total of 5,289, of which 47 were cancelled due to the unavailability of a bed;

* In 2011, 501 out of 5,223 surgeries were cancelled, of which 84 were cancelled due to the lack of a bed;

* In 2012, 412 out of 5,059 surgeries were cancelled, of which 45 were cancelled because of the lack of beds.

Mr Fitzgerald said the lack of availability of a ward or intensive care bed “represents the smallest element” of the cancelled surgeries.

Mr Fitzgerald said they intended to continue to improve the throughput of surgery in 2013 and that the hospital was “committed to commencing a process whereby some surgical beds will be ringfenced and not used for any other purpose other than elective surgery”.


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