A total of 3,300 In-Patient and Day Case surgical procedures have been cancelled by authorities at Letterkenny University Hospital since 2014.
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has condemned the HSE figures.
Describing the numbers as ‘totally unacceptable’, the Donegal T.D. is now calling on the Minister for Health to outline what steps will be taken to reduce the problem of hospital cancellations and to ensure that patients here are not being denied access to treatments.
He fumed “Prior to the Dáil Summer recess I raised the issue of surgical procedure cancellations with the Minister for Health and I challenged him to provide information on the number of surgeries which have been forced to be cancelled over the last few years.
“I’ve now received those statistics from the HSE and the figures do not make for pleasant reading.
“They reveal that between 2014 and August this year, there have been 425 In-Patient admissions cancelled by Letterkenny hospital while – during the same period – management at the hospital have had to cancel a further 2,875 Day-Patient surgeries.
“This means that over the past five and half years, the hospital has cancelled a total of 3,300 surgical procedures for its patients – that is totally unacceptable and wrong.”
The Donegal politician said he understood operations may have to be cancelled for any number of reasons however these figures highlight the sensitivity of the system.
He added “Insufficient capacity, hospital outbreaks, staffing shortages, etc., all impact on surgery scheduling and if one link in the chain is missing then the whole system effectively collapses.
“Worryingly however is that behind every one of those stats is an individual: a patient who is in need of care yet is being denied access to timely treatment.
“Similarly, the hospital continues to experience significant challenges with delayed discharges, something which is being exacerbated by the ongoing shortage of Home Help hours.
“As a result, patients who have been deemed to be medically fit to be discharged from the hospital have nowhere to go and must remain in the acute setting while they wait on home care supports to be made available.”
All of these different factors are having a negative impact on the space available for elective procedures and this is why we are seeing such a huge number of operations being cancelled or rescheduled by the hospital, he added.
“Evidently through not having properly resourced health services such as In-Home Support packages, as well as overseeing a recruitment embargo across the health system, the Government and the Minister have created this situation.
“Regrettably, patients are suffering as a result of Government inaction and ineptitude and moreover they are being denied access to timely care.
“As the Dáil is set to resume in the coming weeks, I intend to ask Minister Harris what measures he now plans to take to address these challenges facing the hospital and to seriously tackle the problem of patients having surgical procedures cruelly cancelled through no fault of their own.”