13k operations cancelled due to staffing and bed shortages

More than 13,000 scheduled operations were cancelled by hospitals during the first eight months of this year for reasons including staffing issues and bed shortages, the HSE has confirmed.

A total of 8,070 day-case surgeries and 4,972 inpatient procedures were cancelled by public hospitals between January and September 2014.

An average of 58 day-case procedures were cancelled every week at Cork University Hospital (CUH) during this time, according to figures released by the HSE.

A further 56 day-case surgeries were cancelled every week at St James’s Hospital in Dublin, where 37 inpatient operations were also cancelled during the eight-month period.

The highest number of surgical inpatient cancellations were reported at Tallaght Hospital, where 889 such procedures were cancelled by the hospital — an average of 25 each week.

The HSE has said that bed shortages and staffing issues were among the reasons that planned elective procedures were cancelled by hospitals.

The figures were released in response to a parliamentary question by Fine Gael TD Brian Walsh.

In a letter responding to the parliamentary question, Robert Kidd, general manager of the HSE Acute Hospital Division, stated that steps had been taken to increase operating theatre efficiency and abolish cancellations.

“There are a number of reasons why planned elective procedures are cancelled and these can include medical-related reasons, non-availability of an appropriate bed, staffing issues, and failure of a patient to attend,” wrote Mr Kidd.

The HSE has introduced a National Clinical Care Elective Surgery Programme with a view to addressing these issues and reducing waiting times for surgical procedures.

“This Programme has introduced a number of measures which aim to increase available bed days by reducing the average length of stay and improving efficiencies by the better use of theatres,” he stated.

The figures reveal that 564 inpatient procedures were cancelled at Beaumont Hospital in the first eight months of this year, as well as 345 appointments for day-case surgery.

Galway University Hospitals (GUH) cancelled 555 inpatient procedures and 760 day-case appointments, while Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin cancelled 557 inpatient operations and 180 day-case procedures.

Other facilities that reported high numbers of cancellations include South Infirmary University Hospital Cork (303 inpatient, 733 day-case), Mayo General Hospital (285 inpatient, 187 day-case), and Waterford Regional Hospital (142 inpatient, 142 day-case).

Nine hospitals were unable to provide data on cancellations. These included University Hospital Limerick, Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children Crumlin, Nenagh Hospital, and Bantry General Hospital.

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