Over 800 operations have been cancelled at the Lagan Valley Hospital in the past year, the Star can reveal.
The statistics show that some 822 operations have been cancelled, however the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust has said the majority of the cancellations were made by the patients rather than the hospital.
The Director of Hospital Services, Seamus McGoran, said the Trust has done everything it could to reschedule the cancelled operations.
“The South Eastern HSC Trust would wish to clarify that almost 70% of cancelled procedures were actually cancelled by patients with the remaining cancellations made by the Trust,” said Mr McGoran.
“In respect of the cancelled procedures by patients, the Trust takes every possible action to refill any cancelled slots to ensure the efficiency of expensive theatre capacity.
“For those procedures cancelled by the Trust, reasons include patient not suitable for procedure (9%) and patients cancelled for non-clinical reasons (6%).
“Non-clinical reasons usually include unavailability of staff due to sickness or other unforeseen circumstances.
“The DHSSPSNI has set an efficiency target of no more than 2% of operations being cancelled for non clinical reasons (it is entirely appropriate to cancel procedures on occasions for clinical reasons).
“The cancellation rate for Lagan Valley is currently 0.6% of the over 8000 procedures carried out in Lagan Valley every year, and this is well within the Government target.”
Lisburn’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Alexander Redpath said he was concerned about the level of cancellations and called on the Health Minister to address hospital waiting times.
“I am confident that the vast majority of these cancellations in the Lagan Valley Hospital were not the result of any failings on behalf of the staff,” said Mr Redpath. “The staff of the Lagan Valley Hospital are incredibly dedicated and the esteem within which they are held by the local community could not be higher.
“However, regardless of the reasons for cancellations each cancellation represents a potential cost to the trust. Even in cases were operations are cancelled for clinical reasons or at the request of patients the onus is on the Trust to reallocate these places as soon as possible. This is especially true given the current waiting times crisis in Northern Ireland. 373,000 people are now on Hospital waiting lists. That represents 20% of Northern Ireland’s population. Every cancelled operation that can be reallocated will contribute towards combating this problem. I call upon the Health Minister Simon Hamilton to show radical leadership to address these spiralling waiting times.”
Lisburn Councillor Robbie Butler added: “I welcome the hard work by staff at the Lagan Valley and the Trust to reallocate places. However more must be done to reallocate as many operations as possible and to reduce the level of cancelled operations by the Trust. I am glad that my Ulster Unionist colleagues in the Assembly are keeping a close eye on this issue and I call upon the Health Minister Simon Hamilton to minimise the wasted resources stemming from these cancellations. During this tight financial environment no opportunity to save money can be wasted.”