I propose to take Questions Nos. 608 to 611, inclusive, together.
Maintaining scheduled care access for all patients is a key priority for hospitals. I fully acknowledge the distress and inconvenience for patients and their families when elective procedures are cancelled, particularly for clinically urgent procedures.
The HSE's annual service plan sets out the totality of Acute Hospitals' Inpatient and Day Case Activity to be delivered in the year. The HSE advise that preliminary inpatient and day case activity in 2018 was 1,699,559. The expected inpatient and day case activity to be delivered in 2019 is 1,706,875.
While very effort is made to avoid cancellation or postponement of planned procedures, the HSE advise that planned procedures and operations can be postponed or cancelled for a variety of reasons including capacity issues due to increased scheduled and unscheduled care demand, medical reasons, and patient choice.
Furthermore, the planning approach for peak periods, such as winter, anticipates that individual hospitals do not book or schedule patients for non-urgent elective admissions and procedures so as to ensure that available capacity is focussed on the predicted increase in emergency admissions through HSE emergency departments during these periods. Usually this results in hospitals not booking, as distinct from actually cancelling, elective admissions and procedures.
The HSE have further advised my Department that they do not collect detailed information centrally in relation to the reasons for cancellations and numbers per specialty.
However, some local information on cancellations may be available at hospital group level and I have asked South-Southwest Hospital Group to provide the Deputy with a response based on the information available to them at each of the sites requested.