ONE of the country's top children's hospitals has dropped surgeries for public holidays.
Non-emergency surgeries will no longer take place on select days in Temple Street Children's Hospital because of funding cuts.
But the hospital last night denied reports it would be closing for four weeks this year.
The hospital will "curtail" a number of services at certain times of the year, with operations and procedures rescheduled to ensure they won't take place on 18 select days.
The move comes despite Temple Street recording the longest average waiting time for in-patient and day-case surgical procedures in the country at four-and-a-half months.
Mona Baker, acting chief executive, said the curtailments will coincide with public holidays, including Good Friday and Easter week.
A spokesman said that weekend reports that the hospital would close for four weeks this year were incorrect.
But he conceded that some operations will be cancelled and rescheduled.
"In some instances, yes," he said. "But very little takes place on those days anyway, it might be only one or two operations."
A review took place in the hospital after indicative figures from the Health Service Executive showed that they will be given a €4m funding cut this year. This will reduce their budget to €73m, significantly down from €86.3m in 2009.
Ms Baker said the review found there is a "natural dip in activity at these times".
"The above curtailment amounts to 18 working days," she said.
"I would like to reassure patients and families that all urgent cases will be dealt with and admissions will proceed for urgent elective patients. We are meeting with medical staff in this regard and the situation will be kept under constant review."
The new plan was outlined to staff last week. The plan is similar to those introduced in all major hospitals across the country which sees various wards and services curtailed during the summer months in an attempt to keep them within their annual budget.
Management at Temple Street anticipate making cost-savings through staff taking overtime in lieu, a reduction in nursing agency costs, and a reduction in non-pay costs.
According to the National Treatment Purchase Fund a number of children have already been waiting over a year for treatment at the hospital.
In November last year Temple Street had the longest average waiting times for surgery when compared to other hospitals.
The median waiting time is around 10 weeks compared to 18 weeks in Temple Street. The shortest wait was recorded in South Tipperary General Hospital at just two weeks.
In the same month the specialist hospital had 415 children waiting for surgery.