New figures show significant rise in number of hospital operation cancellations

Figures released to Fianna Fáil show more than 37,000 operations and hospital procedures were cancelled last year

More than 37,000 operations and hospital procedures were cancelled last year - a rise of almost 13,000 on 2015.

The figures were supplied by the HSE to Fianna Fáil health spokesperson, Billy Kelleher.

Deputy Kelleher said the figures are “of great concern” with the waiting list for inpatient/day case procedures rising to “an all-time high” of 81,000 by the end of the year.

He said the list had grown by approximately 37,000 since the end of 2013.

The figures come after record numbers of patients were recorded waiting on hospital trolleys in wards and emergency departments around the country in recent weeks.

INMO trolley figures

Figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Association (INMO) show 417 people are waiting on trolleys or in wards today.

The number is down from the record count of 612 on January 3rd.

“What is also worrying is the impact the ongoing trolley crisis will have on planned procedures over the coming weeks - as elective surgeries are usually cancelled when our Emergency Departments come under extreme pressure, as has been the case over the last two weeks,” said Deputy Kelleher.

More than 5,000 procedures were cancelled in University Hospital Galway last year - making it the worst affected facility in the country.

Mayo University Hospital saw 2,249 operations cancelled while Sligo University Hospital recorded 1,654 cancellations.

Limerick, South Tipperary, Waterford and the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore all saw more than 1,000 operations cancelled. 

HSE 2016 Waiting List Action Plan

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris announced an action plan aimed at reducing the number of patients on waiting lists in August of last year.

Revealing the waiting list figures earlier this month, the HSE said the key targets of the plan had been achieved.

The HSE said that by the end of December 2016 no patients were left waiting over 36 months for an inpatient or day case procedure - with a 50% reduction in the number of patients waiting over 18 months.

“The achievement of these targets means that over 11,500 patients waiting the greatest length of time for inpatient and day case procedures have come off the waiting lists since the introduction of the Waiting List Action Plan in August,” the HSE said in a statement.

Serious concerns 

However, Deputy Kelleher said it is “simply not acceptable that tens of thousands of medical procedures are being cancelled every year.”

“This only serves to push the problem further down the road and has the potential to lead to complications for patients who have had their procedures delayed,” he said.

“The 2017 HSE Service plan provides just €9 million in new funds for our acute hospitals. As 2017 begins with record trolley figures, the signals for our hospitals for the year ahead do not bode well and I have serious concerns about their ability to provide the care and services that are needed.”