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IHCA warns of cancer surgery cancellations amid Budget concerns

Dr Donal O’Hanlon, IHCA President, said there is now a dangerous situation in hospitals where patient appointments for surgery are being cancelled at short notice. Dr O’Hanlon said the extent of the deterioration in acute hospital capacity has now resulted in cancellations of surgery much earlier than in other years. The IHCA President added that the delivery of essential surgery in cancer hospitals is being severely compromised as is evident from the cancellations this week.

Dr O’Hanlon said that the extent of the current under-resourcing of public hospitals is such that elective but essential and pressing surgery is being cancelled in cancer hospitals.

In University Hospital Limerick, with less than a day’s notice, the hospital cancelled scheduled surgical appointments for today and there is a risk that cancelations may continue tomorrow.

In Galway University Hospital capacity constraints yesterday resulted in over half of patients planned for surgery, in certain specialties, not being operated on because no beds were available despite the theatre and staff being ready to operate.

In the Mater Hospital, Dublin, all elective admissions except cancer patients are cancelled today. These elective cancelations could include patients with pressing and life-threatening conditions.

In St James’s Hospital, Dublin four of the 13 operating theatres are closed due to inadequate resources in terms of beds and staff.

Today, there are 15 patients who are awaiting urgent neurosurgical care who cannot be transferred from hospitals to Beaumont Hospital, Dublin due the unavailability of beds.

Dr O’Hanlon said that there are endless examples of public hospitals that have no choice but to ration care. This is down to capacity deficits in particular relating to an insufficient number of acute and ICU beds and vacant consultant posts. Over 500 permanent hospital consultant posts cannot be filled because of “pay discrimination by the State against newly appointed consultants”.

The IHCA President said this winter’s hospital crisis will be much worse than other years if these capacity deficits are not addressed without delay.

The Association said it outlined “in great detail” in its pre-Budget submission to the Minister for Health and other government Ministers how “underfunding of public hospitals has led to record numbers of patients on trolleys and on waiting lists”.

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