Over 40,000 operations and appointments were cancelled this year.

Over 40,000 operations and appointments were cancelled this year.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has warned that targets to reduce waiting lists for hospital procedures may never be met if high bed occupancy rates are not addressed.

IHCA highlighted that the State's current occupancy rate of 95% has adversely impacted efforts to clear out waiting lists. Furthermore, they stated that 41,000 hospital appointments and operations were cancelled in just January and February this year.

Even though the figure doesn't account for data from a number of hospitals, it still gives an accurate overview of the situation. The actual numbers are likely higher due to a lack of HSE data.

The Government has been urged to step up their game and increase the capacity of public hospitals, as the number of people on waiting lists has risen by 15,500 since January, reaching a total of 885,600.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) stated that long waiting lists were a major cause of overcrowded emergency departments, with 10 hospitals reporting bed occupancy rates higher than 100% during the start of 2023.

These included University Hospital Galway (117%), St Vincent's (111%), and University Hospital Limerick (109%).

The occupancy rates of hospitals in Ireland are significantly higher than the recommended maximum rate of 80-85% and 50% more than the EU average of 63.2%, according to a certain organisation.

The group President mentioned that approximately 5,000 extra hospital beds will be needed by 2030 to address the issue, along with 2,000 additional permanent consultants.