More than 500 surgeries and procedures cancelled at Letterkenny University Hospital

Insufficient bed capacity to blame for the majority of cancelled surgeries

Forty-five patients reported awaiting beds at Letterkenny University Hospital

Letterkenny University Hospital

More than 500 planned surgeries and procedures have been cancelled at Letterkenny University Hospital since 2007, new figures show. 

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Deputy Pearse Doherty described the latest figures on elective surgical cancellations at the hospital as ‘deplorable’ and ‘beyond belief’. The figures show that a total of 539 planned operations were cancelled at the hospital in the last two years.

The figures, which were released following a Parliamentary Question tabled by the Donegal TD, also show that insufficient bed capacity at the hospital was the primary reason for the overwhelming majority of surgeries having to be cancelled since 2017.

“Over the last number of months, I have been regularly contacted by constituents and their families who have expressed concern at having their surgeries and operations due to be performed at Letterkenny University Hospital cancelled," Deputy Doherty said.

“Understandably, patients and their loved ones often report feeling bitterly disappointed and justifiably angry when they discover that a procedure, which they’ve been waiting months and in some cases even years to have performed, has been cancelled – often at short notice.

“In an effort to fully understand the scale of the problem, I decided to raise this issue directly with the minister and to request a breakdown of the number of elective surgeries which had been cancelled at the hospital over the last two years.

“I have now received this data from the HSE and the figures make for sobering reading to say the least.

“They show that a total of 539 planned surgeries and procedures which had been scheduled to take place at the hospital either last year or in 2017 were subsequently cancelled.

“What’s even more worrying is the fact that of these, insufficient bed capacity at the hospital was the chief reason for the cancellation of 404 separate procedures during this period – that is deplorable and beyond belief.

“And in spite of what are the feeble and pathetic attempts by government and the HSE to point to non attendance by patients as a reason for surgeries having to be cancelled or deferred, the data which I’ve received show that this simply is not the case.

“Because when we examine the data closely we see that only a tiny minority of cancelled surgeries at Letterkenny over the past two years have been down to patients cancelling the appointment themselves, with only 19 patient cancellations recorded last year and just 8 in 2017.

“It’s a scandalous situation whereby over the past two years a lack of beds has been to blame for 75 per cent of all elective surgery cancellations.

“This data however, underscores exactly what we in Sinn Féin and indeed others have been saying for years now: that government is continuing to under resource our hospitals and that there is a chronic lack of beds in the system.

“Sinn Féin has repeatedly called on government to bring additional bed capacity on stream, yet government efforts to increase the number of beds in our hospitals have been painfully slow and lacklustre.

“Here in Donegal Sinn Féin has been to the fore of the campaign to have the Short Stay Ward at LUH reopened yet, despite pledges from government to open the facility, there remains huge question marks over when all of the beds at the unit will be made available to patients.

“My party and I have no confidence in this Fine Gael government to fix the problems in health, and I think there is an onus on Fianna Fáil to explain to the people of this county why they are happy to continue to support this Government despite the crisis we see across our health service which is ultimately leading to this ongoing patient suffering we’re witnessing day and daily.”


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