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Significant Reduction in Hospital Discharges and Surgical Care in Ireland Over Past Year

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Data on the impact of the COVID pandemic on hospital discharges and surgical care in Ireland will be presented at the National Healthcare Outcomes Conference today (13 April 2021).

In a presentation to the conference, Mr Kenneth Mealy, Co-Lead of the National Clinical Programme for Surgery and Chair of the Board of the National Office of Clinical Audit (NOCA), will outline a significant reduction in hospital discharges and surgeries between the calendar years 2019 and 2020*, and an increase in waiting lists.

  • 18% decrease in total discharges across all specialties and a 20% decrease in elective stay discharges.
  • 15% decrease in cancer discharges, 26% decrease in colorectal cancer surgery and a 38% decrease in breast cancer surgery**.
  • 26% reduction in all emergency surgery and a 15% reduction in emergency colorectal surgery.
  • 21% decrease in respiratory discharges. COPD and asthma discharges have decreased by 23% and 26%, respectively.
  • 28% fewer total hip replacements and a 36% reduction in unilateral hernia repairs.
  • 34% fewer gallbladder surgeries took place.
  • Out-patient waiting lists have increased by 12.2%. The number of patients waiting for longer than nine months has increased by 40.8%.
  • Waiting lists for day cases or inpatient care have increased by 31.7%. The number of patients waiting for longer than nine months has increased by 111.1%.

Commenting on the data, Mr Mealy said: ‘Data from NOCA indicates that high quality patient care has been provided throughout the pandemic, however, it is clear that our failure to separate scheduled surgical care and emergency care has exacerbated the negative impact on non-COVID medical activities.’

Established in 2016, the Healthcare Outcomes Research Centre is a leading Irish research centre dedicated to the development and dissemination of evidence-based research on healthcare outcomes that will inform healthcare policy and improve patient outcomes.

* Data extracted from NQAIS/HIPE 2020, National Pricing Office, HSE
** This data relates solely to care provided within the public health system and does not account for care that might have been provided through the private system

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