In 2016, a record number of patients received good orthopedical care from NHS trusts, according to data from the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI).
The figures released on Tuesday show that between July and December last year, 4,721 patients received orthopedically-assisted treatment from NHS trust NHS Improvement.
The figures are published alongside figures from the Irish Times, which has revealed the highest number of surgeries performed by NHS hospitals in the country.
The report shows that the total number of orthopedies performed by Irish hospitals rose by 7.5 per cent in the same period, from 5,852 in the year to June to 6,857 in the month to December.
In 2016, the RCSI found that hospitals across the country performed more than half of all orthopedied patients, with the majority of those surgeries being performed by private providers.
The majority of private hospitals were located in Dublin, with a third of them in the capital.
In contrast, hospitals in Cork and Kilkenny performed just over half of the orthopedised patient population, with just under two-thirds of the surgeries performed in the city.
In Cork, the city’s two biggest hospitals, Connolly and Connolly Hospital, performed nearly half of orthopaedic surgeries.
However, there were concerns that there were areas where some hospitals were failing to perform the most advanced surgical procedures.
The largest number of cases were in areas of surgery for people with multiple problems.
These included people with hip fractures and broken bones in their legs, knee injuries, and fractures in the spine.
The Irish Times reported that of the 4,957 cases reported to hospitals, 724 were attributed to this issue, and 624 were related to hip and knee injuries.
Of the total cases, 479 were in the south of Ireland, with Cork accounting for 39 per cent.
In the north, where there are only four hospitals, the figures were more positive, with 10 per cent of cases attributed to hip fractures, with one hospital in Drogheda being ranked as the most popular hospital.
The majority of cases in the north were in cases related to spinal fractures, and six were related for knee injuries in the region.
The report found that the number of spinal fractures increased by nearly 25 per cent over the past year, with seven cases in total.
The number of knee injuries increased by almost 50 per cent, with five cases in particular in the area of Dublin City.
It is the fourth consecutive year that Ireland has reported the highest proportion of spinal fracture cases, with Ireland now ranking third for the number per 100,000 people.
According to the report, there have been an average of 1,700 cases of hip and thigh fractures per year since 2014.
There were also an average 826 cases of spinal injuries per year, which equates to an average daily rate of 2,800 cases.
The total number for 2017 was 3,837.
Dr Michael Breslin, chair of the Royal Colleges of Surgeon, said that while the figures released in the report were not good news, there was good news.
“It’s not all good news,” he said.
“There are very few cases of osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, or any other conditions in the population that are more common than any other condition.”
These cases are also increasing rapidly, with many patients receiving the most appropriate treatment, and there are a number of excellent new treatments available.
“This shows that we have an opportunity to reduce the incidence of these conditions in this country, and improve the quality of care for patients with orthopic conditions.”
Dr Bresler said that although the rate of spinal injury cases increased, it was important to recognise that this was a problem for patients who have other conditions.
“For those patients, the overall picture is good, and it’s a good thing that we’re seeing a reduction in the number,” he added.
“But for those patients that do have osteoarthritic conditions, it’s really a good sign that they’re improving and it helps with the quality and the patient experience.”
We need to be very careful in the way we approach the treatment of osteopaths, particularly because the vast majority of these patients have other serious conditions.