Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has said that figures released by the Health Service Executive (HSE) show that 250 patients had multiple surgeries in Tallaght Hospital cancelled last year. The figures also revealed that an estimated 5,366 patients from right across the State had their surgeries cancelled.

The Sinn Féin TD described cancelled surgeries as a fact of daily life in Irish public hospitals and said the practice was the result of the cruellest of public spending cuts.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“250 patients have experienced a cancelled surgery or multiple cancellations in Tallaght Hospital in 2016. This is a significant portion of the estimated 5,366 patients from right across the State who have experienced cancellations in 2016, according to figures released by the HSE.

“9 times out of 10 the surgeries are cancelled because no hospital bed is available, but increasingly the shortage of theatre staff, and particularly nursing staff, is becoming a more common reason for cancellations. This is frustrating for surgeons and other medical staff, who through no fault of their own find themselves constantly in this situation.

“It is even more frustrating for the patient and their loved ones. It means staying on medication, trying to manage their illness as best they can, and staying on a waiting list that is getting longer and longer every year.

“Unfortunately, a patient who is preparing for elective surgery needs to understand that regardless of whether you have private medical cover or not, if your operation is to be carried out in our public hospitals, then there is always the likelihood of a cancellation. Cancelled surgeries are happening on a daily basis right across our broken health system and these latest figures are testament to just that.”

Crowe continued:

“Many patients who have waited years for their life changing surgery are literally being told hours before their appointment that their surgery won’t be going ahead, and that they are back in a queue. This is a cruel and heartless way to treat what can in many cases be seriously ill individuals. They have prepared, fasted, worried about the procedure, and are then told at the last minute that their long awaited surgery is not actually going ahead.

“The HSE is presiding over a broken system that now has a larger patient cohort and a bigger population, but fewer beds than 10 or 20 years ago. The current system is clearly not working for patients, staff, and those currently awaiting surgery.

“I have been consistently saying that the long term solution to this crisis in public health care is investment in the public system. The only real solution to the crisis lies in the recruitment and retention of staff, more step down beds coupled with rehabilitation supports, a funded and functioning primacy care service, and of course the reopening of beds closed in our hospitals by successive Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments.”