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Real people affected by cancellations

A staggering 13,000 planned operations in Irish hospitals were cancelled in the first eight months of the year.

A shortage of beds and staffing problems in our resource-starved health service were among the usual reasons trotted out by HSE chiefs for why 8,000 day-case and almost 5,000 in-patient procedures were postponed.

Dublin's St James' and Tallaght Hospitals are among the worst hit.

And it appears things haven't got better in latter months as the overcrowding experienced last week in one of Dublin's busiest hospitals shows.

Beaumont Hospital had to close its emergency department to ambulances and cancel non-urgent admissions and operations.

Behind the numbers are thousands of patients - real people - who need the surgeries they've had scheduled by their doctors.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar and the HSE should make it a New Year's resolution to solve this problem once and for all in 2015.