Cancer patients who need tumours removed face delays getting into crowded hospitals
Some cancer patients who need tumours removed cannot be admitted to hospital on time because of a lack of beds, a doctors' conference has been warned.
Dr Clive Kilgallen, a consultant in Sligo, said cancellations due to overcrowding were not just for patients suffering with conditions like a hernia.
In some cases, scheduled admission of waiting list patients had ground to a halt, he told the annual meeting of the Irish Medical Organisation yesterday.
He said long delays on trolleys were putting patients at increased risk of illness and infection.
The ongoing overcrowding crisis in several hospitals led to calls for a six-hour limit on the length of time a patient should wait for a bed.
Dr Peadar Gilligan, an A&E consultant in Beaumont Hospital, said the waiting time target in the NHS was four hours and in New York three hours.
"The six-hour target should be from arrival in the emergency department to admission to a ward bed or discharge home," he said.
"In Dublin, if you are three hours on a trolley after we request a hospital bed we commiserate with you and tell you there is probably another nine hours. That is just disgraceful."
He said the target can be met only with more hospital staff and beds, better resourced GPs and faster access to diagnostic scans for patients.
Meanwhile, doctors backed a motion calling on the Government to regulate social media sites which are leaving children and vulnerable adults at risk.
Dr Matthew Sadlier, a psychiatrist in Dublin, said social media was not subject to the same constraints as newspapers, leaving children prey to cyberbullying and some adults exposed to influences which put them at risk of suicide or eating disorders.
"It is dominated by a few companies. A lot of these companies are basing operations here," he said.
"They are daily raising advertising revenue as if they are publishers but they have no responsibility for what is happening on their site.
"People have free choice but when it comes to children we have to look for protection."
Doctors disagreed, however, on a motion calling on the Department of Health to stop abrogating its responsibility and organise a resourced campaign highlighting the dangers of cannabis use.
Dr Ray Walley, a GP in north inner city Dublin, said there ias a view among young people that cannabis was a safe recreational drug that could be used with no consequences.
Yet "there is no national campaign advising the dangers of cannabis use especially in young adolescents".
He was supported by Dr Bobby Smyth, who works in addiction services in the HSE and who warned that use of cannabis had escalated in the last decade.
At the same time, public knowledge about its adverse effects appeared to have gone in the opposite direction, he added.
However, the motion was opposed by Dr Cathal O Suilleabhain and Dr Garrett McGovern, two GPs who treat drug addicts.
There is a need to educate people about the drug but a "patronising" campaign will not work, they added.
Dr McGovern said alcohol was still the main drug abused in this country and was the main reason for people being referred for addiction treatment.
A majority of doctors at the conference voted in favour of the motion.