Hospitals overwhelmed by injuries cancel operations
Published 08/01/2010 | 05:00
PATIENTS on public waiting lists have had their planned operations cancelled as hospitals struggle to cope with the influx of admissions from A&E departments.
A&E departments are seeing 10 times the normal number of patients with fractures due to falls in snow and ice since before Christmas.
There has also been a surge in people with heart and respiratory complaints needing care.
Cork University Hospital said it is dealing with an "unprecedented" number of trauma patients and has cancelled 22 surgeries for other people who were due to be admitted for non-emergency operations.
It has had to run three orthopaedic operating theatres daily to deal with the rise in injuries.
A spokesman said the cancellations had affected a range of patients and, while they will impact on waiting lists, they will be rescheduled as soon as possible.
Beaumont Hospital in Dublin has also had to cancel a significant number surgeries and has doubled the orthopaedic operating slots.
Orthopaedic surgeon Peter O'Rourke, who was forced to reduce his operating time to one day every two weeks for the last three months of last year in Letterkenny Hospital due to cuts, confirmed he was forced to cancel four surgeries this week.
Mr O'Rourke said the beds had to be given to patients coming through A&E but these did not include those injured in the snow, who tend to be discharged early.
He said his operating time will be restricted again this year.
"I could get through the list in five months," he added -- but because he is not given enough slots, the patients will wait much longer.
A spokesman for St James's Hospital in Dublin said it did not have to cancel operations but its orthopaedic admissions are 44 higher than at this time last year.
St Vincent's Hospital is now seeing 30 patients a day in its orthopaedic clinic mostly as a result of weather injuries -- triple the numbers dealt with last year.
Dr James Binchy, spokesman for emergency consultants, warned patients can expect delays before being seen.
Meanwhile, many rural GPs are having to take their "lives in their hands" to make housecalls to vulnerable patients, Mayo GP Dr Jerry Cowley said yesterday.
Dr Cowley, from Mulraney, Co Mayo, said some parts of the county had breakdowns in their phone lines and broadband access.
"I try to take a circuitous route if there is a hill involved in order to make it to people's homes. It is taking me much longer but several patients who would normally visit the surgery simple cannot travel to me," he added.
"Two ambulances had crashes although there were not serious and taxis in the main are not willing to risk travel to many areas," he added.
Michael Dineen, an ambulance worker in Cork County said they have had to call on four-wheel drive vehicles to get to some homes where a patient was ill.