Thursday, January 09, 2020

CANCER surgeries are among a number of planned procedures now cancelled in hospitals in Waterford and Cork, meaning time-critical prostate, breast and colorectal surgeries are delayed, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has warned.

Hospital consultants spoke out about ongoing cancellations of planned surgical procedures in hospitals in Cork, Kerry and Waterford earlier this week. Having previously raised concerns about the decision to introduce a blanket ban on complex and time-critical surgeries, consultants described the decision as a ‘knee-jerk’ one.

There are currently over 28,000 patients on inpatient and day case waiting lists for surgical and other procedures at Cork, Kerry and Waterford Hospitals, with fears that this number will grow significantly because elective surgery, which is essential and often urgent, has now been cancelled.

The impact of the cancellations is that it is difficult to reschedule all appointments because available theatre operating time and beds are allocated in advance to other patients also awaiting urgent and essential operations.

IHCA President, Dr Donal O’Hanlon said: “This is a complex situation that cannot be solved with a blanket, knee-jerk response. Each patient has individual needs that should be treated as determined by their surgical and medical consultant teams, rather than being categorised as elective and simply cancelled.

“It is the wrong approach for those patients in Cork, Kerry and Waterford who require critical, life-enhancing procedures in a given time period.”

The IHCA criticised the lack of meaningful dialogue between hospital management and hospital consultants as a root cause of the flawed decisions being made to cancel all elective surgeries. They have called for all options to be considered before essential urgent surgery is cancelled.

“Day-case beds, which are open and available, for surgical procedures could be used to facilitate surgery for patients who can be discharged in the same day. Other more complex surgeries require an inpatient bed where a longer recovery time is required,” Dr O’Hanlon said, “Our acute public hospitals are at breaking point under emergency conditions, so we must ensure that every potential option to ease the situation has been fully explored.”

“Consultants fully accept that there may be circumstances where there is no option but to cancel essential surgeries, but it must always be the last option, after all other options have been fully exhausted,” he added.


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