2,700 surgeries and procedures cancelled

By Mary Dennehy

MORE than 2,700 surgeries and procedures were cancelled at Tallaght University Hospital between January 2017 and February of this year, The Echo has learned.

However, the local health facility has this week confirmed that in an attempt to tackle capacity challenges, which has an ongoing impact on elective procedures, a new ambulatory day surgery unit is being developed across from the hospital campus.

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Once opened, the unit will allow the hospital to treat an additional 6,000 patients annually.

According to the figures provided to Deputy Sean Crowe through a Parliamentary Question, 1,003 procedures were cancelled at Tallaght University Hospital in 2017, 1,426 in 2018 and 367 in January and February of this year.

Overall, 2,796 surgeries and procedures across 20 adult specialities have been cancelled between January 2017 and February 2019.

Some of the specialities hit by cancellations include urology, haematology, elective orthopaedics, gastroenterology and rheumatology.

Speaking with The Echo, Dublin South West TD Sean Crowe (Sinn Fein) said: “I think these figures highlight the sensitivity of the system.

“[Hospital] bugs, staff on holidays, maternity leave… if one link in the chain is missing, the whole system collapses.

“There are all sorts of reasons why cancellations are happening but [these figures] highlight the crisis the hospital system is in… and the stats should be looked at and examined.

“Behind every one of those stats is an individual.”

He added: “We also need to support people who are maybe under pressure or struggling to turn up for a procedure.

 “There are a huge amount of reasons why a person may not go ahead with a procedure… and we need to be asking how we can support people in that situation.”

When contacted by The Echo, a spokesperson for TUH said that there are a “myriad of reasons” for patients’ treatment to be rescheduled.

These reasons include clinical prioritisation, patients not being clinically ready for their procedure or being unavailable to attend at the offered time or date.

However, issues around available capacity at the local health facility continues to impact on surgery scheduling.

 “It regrettably remains the case that current demand for beds exceeds the hospital’s existing available capacity”, the spokesperson said.

“TUH works continuously to free up beds for admitted patients, but there is a clear underlying requirement to develop additional on-site bed capacity.

“Discussions are ongoing with the HSE to develop a new 72-bed facility (all single rooms) at the hospital to address these additional capacity requirements.”

The spokesperson added: “The hospital continues to experience significant challenges with delayed discharges, there are patients who are medically fit to be discharged but have nowhere to go or are waiting on home care supports.

“This has an ongoing impact on the space available for elective procedures.

“In addition, to address the challenge of caring for patients waiting for elective procedures the hospital has formally signed a lease agreement for the development of an ambulatory day-surgery unit in premises across the road from the hospital.

“This new, innovative development will enable the hospital to treat a further 6,000 patients when fully commissioned.

“This development will enable the hospital to continue to develop pioneering day case and short stay surgeries and provide capacity in a protected elective unit.

“Tallaght University Hospital apologies for the inconvenience caused to patients, whose procedures will be rescheduled as soon as possible.”

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