Five reasons why we face a waiting list Groundhog Day
1. Demand is rising - The population is ageing and in need of more hospital care generally.
This means that in the areas of ophthalmology, which include cataract removal, and orthopaedics, which involve hip and knee operations, the numbers on waiting lists are growing.
The population has also increased and this leads to greater numbers on lists.
2. Lack of beds
The trolley crisis means emergency patients frequently have to take a bed earmarked for a waiting-list patient. This leaves a waiting-list patient who could be scheduled for admission being told their operation is cancelled. The delay adds to the backlog.
The worsening trolley crisis has meant there is more focus on trying to admit patients to a bed.
3. Lack of staff
This has led to rolling theatre closures in several hospitals and a failure to use theatres to full capacity. Surgeons have seen their theatre time cut in many instances, which means there are fewer patients being operated on.
4. Cuts in funding
The reduction in the health budget during the recession years has seen the backlog of waiting lists rise.
5. Short-gap measures
There has been various outsourcing to private hospitals in recent years, but this is just a temporary reprieve.
It means a particular group of patients may be given their operation or seen in an outpatient clinic in a private hospital. But it does not address underlying issues at the public hospitals and, once the initiative ends, the numbers start rising again.