Mr Mealy said, “I have written to the Taoiseach and Minister for Health expressing RCSI’s strong view that any delay in developing the elective hospitals would have serious implications for patients on waiting lists for scheduled surgery.”
“A 20% efficiency in bed day usage has been achieved since 2010. In fact, if we were still operating at 2010 efficiency levels, an additional 891 beds would have been required. Despite this good news, we know that a million additional surgical beds days will be required annually to meet the needs of our growing and ageing population over the next thirty years.
“Providing this additional capacity requires a fundamental shift in the way surgical services are delivered in Ireland. Moving to a model that separates acute unscheduled from necessary scheduled, or elective, surgery is critical if we are to find a sustainable way of delivering surgical services in the future. If plans to build three scheduled care or elective only hospitals, where surgery would be safeguarded at times of peak pressure such as winter, are delayed or abandoned, then it is difficult to see a sustainable solution to our waiting lists problem.
“The vast majority of complex surgery for our sickest patients can only be delivered in a protected scheduled care environment.”
Surgeons too have a responsibility to manage resources effectively, according to Mr Mealy. “We need to understand that limited resource allocation demands that we work cooperatively at regional and national level and we design patient centred, but cost efficient care pathways which do not duplicate limited budgets. We also each need to buy into the concept of continuous quality improvement and audit in examining what we do”, he said.