Ruane wants action on patient being ‘led up the garden path’ over hip operations

Sinn Féin Castlebar town councillor and Local Election candidate Thérése Ruane has accused the HSE of leading an elderly patient awaiting a hip operation “up the garden path”.

Cllr Ruane said the local man has been awaiting an operation for a painful hip condition for months and is getting no response from the HSE as to when he can expect to have his procedure carried out.

Cllr Ruane lashed out at the treatment this patient is getting. “People don't seem to matter any more,” she said. “Surely it's not too much to ask that the HSE and Mayo General Hospital respond to an elderly man's repeated requests for information, his GP’s requests, and a Government TD’s request. I sincerely hope that I get a response to the questions I have put. I have also submitted parliamentary questions on this matter.”

Outlining the background of the case, Ruane explained that the man was advised in late 2012 to see a hip specialist. When he was examined by the head of orthopaedics in Mayo General in November 2012 the conclusion was that the damage would require surgery, but it should be put off until 2013. In December 2013 he visited his local GP. A nurse examined his hip and was shocked at the deterioration in his mobility. She immediately contacted Mayo General Hospital on his behalf and arranged an appointment with the head of orthopaedics, which was scheduled for December 23, 2013.

When he attended on that date, he did not get to see head of orthopaedics but was examined by a registrar, who concluded that his hip was badly damaged and should be operated on within the next three to six months. The man’s wife contacted the head of orthopaedics’ secretary in January this year to ask for an approximate date for the operation, but was told that this would not be possible and that there was a waiting list for a year or more on hip operations in Mayo. She was to ring again in early March for an update. She rang again at the end of February, in mid-March, and again in mid-April, but could get no date for her husband’s operation. When she rang in April she was informed no orthopaedic operations had been carried out in Mayo General Hospital for the previous three weeks but hip procedures were expected to resume before the end of April.

When she rang again at the start of this month, she was told that no operations had been performed for the previous eight weeks. When she inquired why operations had ceased for a two month period, she was told that no operating theatres were available and the person she spoke to did not know when procedures would recommence.

The man’s wife inquired as to who was responsible for scheduling operations. She was advised to contact the general manager of Mayo General Hospital, Charlie Meehan. When they contacted Mr Meehan’s office, they were only able to leave a message on his secretary’s answering machine and was advised by the recorded message that if she left her contact details, a return call could be made. No call was made to them, despite the fact that they rang on five separate occasions. Moreover, his GP has written twice on behalf of the man to the HSE to inquire when he might expect a date for his operation but the GP also has yet to receive a reply.

Cllr Ruane concluded: “The HSE simply won't respond and it's not good enough. Meanwhile, this elderly man is suffering, in great pain, awaiting an operation. He has been led up the garden path, expecting his operation any day, and yet he was told on May 2 that no operations had been performed for the previous eight weeks, because no operation theatres were available and that it was not clear when procedures would recommence.”

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