Monday 18 December 2017

Early setback for Varadkar as grim HSE figures released

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

NEW Health Minister Leo Varadkar has received the latest grim statistics from the HSE as waiting lists grow and it sinks further into the red.

The figures for the end of May show the HSE is now €163m over budget, up from €107.5m in April. The numbers waiting to see a specialist for more than a year have also risen from 22,746 to 28,185.

More children who need to be admitted for surgery are also facing delays – 1,297 are now waiting more than five months for a bed.

And there are 4,302 adults in the queue for more than eight months for admission from public waiting lists for a bed.

The report said that 52,232 people had medical cards on discretionary grounds. It remains to be seen how many will have benefited from the freeze on reviews of medical cards, when the June figures are released.


The report also said that hospitals account for around €104.7m of the overrun. The HSE said it is "developing a number of options to address and respond to the significant increase in demand for care".

The rise in the numbers of patients coming through hospital emergency departments who need to be admitted to a ward is impacting on the total number awaiting treatment.

"All of these factors contribute to the current trend in waiting lists," it said.

Meanwhile, Mr Varadkar and Minister of State for Primary and Social Care Kathleen Lynch have described the Bill paving the way for free GP visits for under-sixes as an "historic moment".

The two ministers said they accepted an amendment by Senator John Crown which prevents any 'gagging' clause from being included in contracts with GPs.

Additional funding of €37m was provided in Budget 2014 to fund this first phase giving 240,000 children who currently must pay to see a GP the benefit.

Irish Independent

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