Lisburn attack forced doctors to postpone urgent operations

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The Independent Online
A senior neuro-surgeon at Northern Ireland's biggest hospital appealed to terrorists to consider the consequences of their actions yesterday, as it emerged that the Lisburn bombings had forced surgeons to postpone operations on seriously ill patients.

Tom Fannin, a senior consultant neuro-surgeon at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, said the hospital was "very concerned" that the upsurge in violence meant that intensive care beds were filled by the victims, leaving no room for scheduled patients, and said it could have serious consequences for health care resources in the province.

Three patients who had their operations cancelled required brain surgery and a fourth needed a tumour removed from her abdomen. Mr Fannin had also had to cancel an operation to correct an aneurysm - a blood vessel that had burst in a patient's brain.

The patients were said to be "very distressed" at the postponement of their operations, some of which had been planned many weeks ago.

"I want to plead very strongly that [the terrorists] think very carefully before they undertake any of these awful acts which inevitably result not just in loss of life but terrible consequences for other victims," Mr Fannin said.

As he spoke, four of the most seriously injured casualties of the Lisburn bombings were still in the Royal Victoria's intensive care unit, one critically ill.

Mr Fannin, a neuro-surgeon since 1977, said a resumption of violence was likely to have more serious consequences than before the ceasefire because policy on the use of intensive care beds had changed.

Dr Ian Carson, medical director of the Royal Victoria, said the cost of intensive care meant a return to violence would have serious implications for health budgets.