Rates of day surgery still vary in our hospitals
PATIENTS undergoing surgery have a much higher chance of going home on the same day, with no overnight stay, in some hospitals than in others.
The Comptroller and Auditor General has highlighted how day surgery rates in the biggest hospitals in Dublin, Cork and Galway range from 69pc to 85pc.
By admitting and discharging a patient in the same day, the HSE can save almost 60pc of the costs associated with their surgery.
Hospitals with the highest rates of day surgery are the Mater, St Vincent's and Beaumont in Dublin while Tallaght Hospital and Cork University Hospital have the lowest.
The rate for removal of cataracts on a day basis in Cork University Hospital is 67pc compared to an average of 97pc in four other comparable hospitals.
Around 24 operations have been selected as suitable for day surgery, including removal of tonsils, gallbladder or varicose veins, but many doctors still remain concerned they are not always appropriate for patients.
The report also pointed out that the use of keyhole day surgery to remove a gallbladder is carrried out less by some doctors and the rate remains at around 1pc in some hospitals while it has grown to 70pc in others.
Hospitals around the country, which have lower rates of day surgery, include Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, South Tipperary General Hospital, Clonmel, the Mercy Hospital Cork and Portlaoise Hospital.
Nenagh Hospital only carried out day surgery. Rates are also high in Kerry General, Portiuncula. Navan and Wexford.
Patients who undergo day surgery are able to have their breakfast and supper at home and sleep that night in their own beds.
They are also at less risk of infection and hospitals are able to get through waiting lists faster.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar said yesterday that day surgery should be the "default" option for many non-emergency procedures, unless there is a valid reason for an overnight stay.
It is planned to roll out the "money follows the patient" system of funding for surgery in the coming years which would see hospitals paid on the quantity and quality of operations rather getting a block grant.
However, some doctors still have serious reservations about the practice of day surgeries and point to the benefits of bringing in patients the night before, allowing consultants and nurses to monitor them and ensure they are ready for theatre.
The HSE said an increasing number of patients who need a simple procedure, such as relief of glue ear, should also not be coming to hospital because they could be done in their doctors' surgery.