No extra money despite scores of cancelled ops

October 16, 2017

The Southern Health and Social Care Trust is to receive none of the additional £40million allocation made to the Department of Health, despite the forced cancellation of more than 60 scheduled operations during last week, owing to “extreme bed pressures”.

Patients in Daisy Hill and Craigavon Area hospitals were affected by the cancellations on Tuesday and Wednesday when their planned surgeries were called off as staff struggled to deal with a spike in patient admissions, leading to insufficient bed space.  Some of the postponed operations were ‘red flag’ procedures, meaning there is a suspicion of cancer present.

While these pressures were being felt in the Southern Trust, the Department of Finance announced it is to provide an extra £40m for health, the funding coming from the October Monitoring Round.  The news prompted expectation among all five Health Trusts that the additional finance would ease pressures and significantly reduce the amount of savings they have been instructed to make.

However, at an extraordinary meeting of the Southern Trust Board on Friday, it was revealed that the Southern Trust area will receive none of the funding boost, and is pressing ahead with the original £6.4 million in cuts, which officials insist will be of “low impact” to services.

The news, coming on the back of one of the biggest rounds of cancelled surgeries the hospitals in the area have experienced, has prompted anger and disappointment.

SDLP MLA Justin McNulty says he had sought answers at Friday’s board meeting as to why the operations were cancelled but claimed the Chairman of the Trust had “point blank refused to allow an explanation, despite all the appropriate Directors sitting around the table”.

Meanwhile, the Southern Trust apologized for the inconvenience to affected patients and pledged to reschedule the operations “as soon as possible”.

“We are very sorry for the inconvenience and distress caused to patients and we will do everything we can to re-schedule these operations as soon as possible, with priority given to the most urgent surgery,” a Trust spokesperson said.