Number of cancelled operations set to rise to 40,800

Approximately 3,400 procedures are being cancelled in public hospitals every month, according to the latest figures.

Health Minister Simon Harris

In total, 37,491 procedures were cancelled last year, representing an increase of almost 13,000 compared to 2015.

However, the figure is set to rise again this year after the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) revealed that 3,400 procedures are currently being cancelled on average each month.

If the trend continues for the remaining months of 2017, it will result in an annualised total of 40,800 cancelled operations at public hospitals.

The latest figures were revealed by Health Minister Simon Harris in response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

“Cancellation of elective procedures can occur for a variety of exceptional reasons, including cancellations because a bed or the clinical team are not available, cancellations by a patient or because the patient may not be fit for surgery. Maintaining scheduled care access for all patients and managing emergency demand at times is challenging. However, all efforts are made to limit cancellations, particularly for clinically urgent procedures,” said Mr Harris.

Mr Harris said it is essential that hospitals improve how they manage the planning of elective procedures in order to minimise the impact on patients

“In addition, it is important that the HSE continues to improve its processes to minimise the number of sessions lost when patients cancel or do not attend for their procedures,” he added.

The details of cancelled procedures have emerged after a leaking roof in an operating theatre at Merlin Park Hospital in Galway caused the cancellation of an estimated 800 orthopaedic surgeries. Earlier this month, a roof leak was detected in a building that houses the hospital’s two orthopaedic theatres. All surgeries were suspended for a week while repairs were carried out.

The theatres reopened on September 11 but closed again two days later after another leak was detected. It is now understood major remedial works are required at the hospital and all surgical activity has been suspended.

Consultants estimate up to 800 scheduled procedures are likely to be cancelled between now and the end of the year, when temporary modular theatres are expected to be commissioned in order to allow operations to proceed pending the completion of extensive repair works.

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