Saturday 15 December 2018

10pc of population on waiting list to see a specialist

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Hospital waiting lists have spiralled to a new record with 502,482 public patients now in the queue to see a specialist.

It means that one in 10 of the population is on these outpatient lists.

The January figures, released yesterday, show no respite for patients without health insurance who are depending on the State for vital care.

Despite pledges by the Government to tackle the crisis, there are now 693,890 patients on some form of waiting list - up from 689,700 waiting in December.

The impact of A&E overcrowding, which has left hospitals running out of beds, means that much non-emergency surgery has had to be put on hold since Christmas.

There are 80,204 people in need of surgery and of these 13,702 have been waiting at least a year.

The number of patients waiting for an endoscopy, an invasive diagnostic procedure, rose from 17,618 in December to 18,086 in January.

The figures, compiled by the National Treatment Purchase Fund, will devastate many patients who are in pain and at risk due to the delays in care.

Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Billy Kelleher TD called on Health Minister Simon Harris to "get a grip".

He said: "To have over half a million people, or 10pc of the population, on the outpatient waiting list is simply extraordinary and unacceptable.

"But even more shocking is that 140,393 patients have been waiting for more than a year and 73,392 of them more than 18 months.

"When the minister took office in May 2016, there were 13,095 waiting over a year and a half, so there has been a fivefold increase under his tenure"


The latest figures also show more children are having their care delayed.

The three children's hospitals in Dublin have 8,553 young patients waiting 18 months or more - up from 505 in May 2016.

Meanwhile, the numbers of patients waiting for a bed on trolleys escalated again yesterday with 623 in A&Es, corridors and wards.

There were 58 patients in need of a bed in Cork University Hospital. Ten children were on trolleys in Temple Street Hospital and four in Our Lady's Hospital, Crumlin.

Although €55m has been allocated to purchase extra treatments this year, the underlying trends mean there is unlikely to be any major fall.

Irish Independent

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