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Surgeries at Cork hospital cancelled for two weeks as flu and 'revelry' make their impact

The move is an attempt to ease pressure on services over the busy Christmas period.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/Tony Stock

SURGERIES DUE TO take place at Cork University Hospital (CUH) over the next two weeks have been cancelled.

Non-urgent surgeries at the hospital have been cancelled from today until Monday 8 January, according to the Irish Examiner. The newspaper reports that there are currently 1,431 people on CUH’s inpatient/day-case waiting list.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Dr Gerry McCarthy, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at CUH, said: “I don’t know the precise numbers of how many [surgeries] have been cancelled, but it is one of tools available in a very crowded environment to cater for emergency admissions.”

McCarthy said CUH is “one of the busiest hospitals in the country”, noting that winter is always a busy period for hospitals.

“I’d probably be not living in the real world if I didn’t expect us to be busy, I suppose.

“There will be a lot of patients coming through for admission and they will need beds and, yes, they do end up waiting for those beds on trolleys in the emergency department, unfortunately.”

Flu cases

Yesterday, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) urged people in high-risk groups to get vaccinated against influenza.

The number of reported cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) in Ireland has increased in the past week and flu is now actively circulating. Last week, the GP consultation rate for ILI increased to 20.3 per 100,000 population, up from 6.8 per 100,000 the previous week.

McCarthy said there are about 20 flu-like illnesses for every case of the real flu. He said the number of flu-like cases is “certainly beginning to take hold this week”, with a relatively low number of cases increasing to an above average number – a trend he expects to continue in the coming weeks.

McCarthy said most people who are otherwise healthy can “shake off” the flu, but it has a greater impact on older people and those with chronic illnesses.

He advised that phoning their GP should be the first port of call for people who think they have the flu. However, if people feel very unwell and as though they may collapse, he said they should go to their local emergency department. If the person has the flu, they will need to be isolated and therefore further impact on space issues, he noted.

Busy Christmas period

McCarthy said many of the people presenting to hospitals at this time of year have an infectious disease, something that can develop into pneumonia in older people or those who have other health issues.

Christmas celebrations have also played a role recently, with McCarthy noting: ”The weekend just gone, we saw a lot of revelry and people ending up needing to come to the hospital as a result of that so we’ll anticipate a little bit of that but I think that’s lessened off now coming up to Christmas.

“The Christmas period itself tends to be quieter, Christmas Day. Although in recent years, I think with the increasing amount of more elderly people around, it’s no longer the quiet day that it used to be.”

McCarthy said St Stephen’s Day also “tends to be very busy”.

Read: People urged to get flu vaccine after jump in cases of influenza-like illness

Read: Irish woman in stable condition after being injured in Melbourne car incident

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Órla Ryan

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