Wednesday, 18 December 2019
Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation
I thank the Deputy. I became aware of that case this morning. For many good reasons, I am reluctant to discuss any individual case but I understand the operation has been rescheduled for later this week. I hope it will go ahead. I had the distinct displeasure as a junior doctor of having to ring people and tell them their appointments were cancelled. I remember it well. I am aware of the kind of stress and worry cancellations cause for people who have taken time off work and packed their bags and who have psychologically prepared themselves for an operation. Where operations are cancelled, however, they are rescheduled, very often for a few days later and sometimes for the following week. It is important to state that the total cancellation rate for operations is somewhere in the region of 2% or 3%. I accept that this does not matter to a patient who is among the 2% or 3% but it is the rate. Cancellations occur for many reasons. Sometimes a bed may not be available. Sometimes key staff are not available. Staff can get sick too. Sometimes a piece of equipment may not be working. Sometimes there are infection-control issues. Where an operation is cancelled, however, efforts are always made to reschedule within days, if not the following week. Increasing capacity, such as by building our children's hospital, opening the two hospitals next year and opening three major extensions next year, and taking on more staff will help to reduce the number of cancellations to a rate below 2% or 3%. We need to be honest with people that sometimes operations will be cancelled for various reasons, but every effort will be made to reschedule them within days.