Hospital patients who are having operations cancelled over and over again are afraid to speak out in case they will be “blacklisted” and be put further down the waiting list, the chairperson of the HSE West’s regional health forum Cllr Padraig Conneely alleged this week.
While there is no evidence whatsoever of this happening patients are still fearful of highlighting their plight, according to the city mayor.
He says a city man in his late 60s has had a non-emergency procedure cancelled on four occasions. While his condition is not life-threatening he is “distressed” and in “pain”.
“He has been in and out of hospital four times in the last year. Each time his operation has been cancelled because there is no theatre time available for him.”
He says the man, who is awaiting a hernia operation, had his first procedure carried out in January 2012 after a two year wait. The operation had to be repeated and this was scheduled for August 19 2013. However it was cancelled at 5pm that day and rescheduled for September 23. But the procedure was cancelled again at 5pm and deferred until January 29. But that appointment too was cancelled (at 11pm this time) as was another one for January 30.
Cll Conneely says this man worked hard all his life and deserves better treatment from the health service.
“This patient has been going through this trauma since 2010. Now he has to wait for another appointment after four scheduled operations not taking place. He took up a bed each time - while people are waiting for beds - and was then sent home. He had been two years waiting for the first procedure but there was a problem and it had to be repeated. He has only one kidney and has to go into hospital the day before [the planned procedure] to be prepared for it.”
He says cases like this patient’s are unfortunately all too common. “There are many other patients out there whose stories are not being told. They are ordinary people who are suffering. Their cases are not being highlighted. It is horrific, it shouldn’t be happening to people. While they may not have life-threatening conditions they may be in severe pain.
“A lot are afraid to complain, they are too scared to go public or talk to their elected representatives because they fear they would be blacklisted and won’t be called at all. They wait in the hope that a letter of appointment will come, that’s why they want to wait below the radar.”
The forum chair is urging people to speak out and tell their storie
s with a view to putting pressure on the HSE West to rectify this ongoing problem.
“This man’s case is only one of many such incidents. He said I was his last resort. He told of the number of people he met who were in the same situation, they had been in and out of hospital, being sent home and recalled.”
Despite a new management structure being in place at the west’s biggest hospital, Cllr Conneely says much needs to be done still to help non-emergency surgical patients who are waiting in pain for years.
A comment from the HSE West was not available at the time of going to press.