‘Knee-jerk reaction and poorly thought-out’: Consultants slam decision to cancel all elective surgery at Cork hospitals

‘Knee-jerk reaction and poorly thought-out’: Consultants slam decision to cancel all elective surgery at Cork hospitals

"No hospital consultant wants to tell a patient waiting for essential breast or prostate cancer surgery that their critical treatment has been cancelled." 

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has warned that the decision to cancel all elective surgery at Cork hospitals will have severe knock-on consequences for patient health outcomes.

Management at Cork Hospitals announced that they intend to cancel elective surgery in the region’s hospitals for three days from yesterday until tomorrow. The cancellations could continue after that, depending on the overcrowding situation in the hospitals.

“The decision to cancel all remaining elective surgery at Cork’s acute public hospitals is simply not acceptable,” IHCA President Dr. Donal O’Hanlon said. "It is forcing hospitals and the consultants who treat patients to determine which patient is more worthy of treatment.

“No hospital consultant wants to tell a patient waiting for essential breast or prostate cancer surgery that their critical treatment has been cancelled and, worse still, that they are not in a position to tell that patient when it will be rescheduled.

“The decision to cancel life enhancing surgery for patients with conditions such as cancer, where it is accepted that early surgical intervention is key to better long-term health outcomes, is another knee-jerk reaction and poorly thought-out. It undermines our commitment to care for already vulnerable patients.” 

The IHCA,which represents over 90% of hospital consultants, said its members are also seriously concerned that this move in Cork could be repeated across the country.

“Hospital consultants at the front-line in the delivery of care to patients are deeply distressed at what is unfolding at Cork’s hospitals,” Dr O’Hanlon said.

”Cancelling essential surgery cannot even credibly be presented as a solution to the ongoing lack of capacity and overcrowding at our acute public hospitals.

“Minister Harris and the HSE need to put in place well thought-out, meaningful actions which don’t simply move the bottleneck from one part of the hospital to another or address the needs of one category of patients, whilst penalising another.”

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