Consultants call for all options to be considered before essential surgery cancelled at Cork, Kerry, Waterford hospitals
- Need for greater dialogue between hospital management and surgical and medical consultant teams to minimise cancellations of essential and urgent surgery;
- Cancer patients amongst those impacted by the decision to cancel all planned procedures.
IHCA President, Dr Donal O’Hanlon:
“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 Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has called for all options to be fully considered before essential surgery is cancelled at Cork, Kerry and Waterford hospitals.
Hospital consultants were responding to the ongoing cancellations of planned surgical procedures in hospitals in Cork, Kerry and Waterford earlier this week. Consultants have previously raised concerns about the decision to introduce a blanket ban on complex and time-critical surgeries, describing 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.
Cancer surgeries are included in the number of planned procedures now cancelled at Cork and Waterford Hospitals, meaning time-critical prostate, breast and colorectal surgeries are delayed. Without timely access to treatment, these patients are at risk of poorer healthcare outcomes.
The IHCA has today (Friday 10 January 2020) 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 in recent days. They have called for enhanced dialogue between hospital management and consultants to allow for all options to be considered before essential urgent surgery is cancelled.
Consultants have noted that day-case beds may be available in these hospitals which would accommodate some of the patients who need surgery, while inpatient beds are required for urgent cases that need a longer hospital stay to recover from surgery.
According to IHCA President Dr Donal O’Hanlon: “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.
“Consultants want to work with hospital management to minimise cancellations and protect patients’ access to timely care.
“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.
“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.
“It may be more straightforward to cancel all planned surgery, but it is the wrong approach for those patients in Cork, Kerry and Waterford who require critical, life-enhancing procedures in a given time period.
“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.”