Emotional agony of patients on waiting lists laid bare
The physical and emotional agony of public patients and their families waiting months - if not years - for treatment is laid bare in an RTE Investigates documentary airing tonight.
In “Living on the List”, reporter Barry O’Kelly speaks to patients on the public waiting list who are awaiting treatment or even an appointment with a doctor to confirm a diagnosis.
The documentary explores how “as time passes, their conditions worsen and the long-term impact can be far-reaching.”
For many of the patients featured, the wait is not only unbearable for themselves and their families, in many cases it has exacerbated their conditions, requiring even more costly interventions and resources.
In Megan Halvey-Ryan’s case, the wait for surgery is simply heart-breaking.
The 13-year-old schoolgirl from Limerick suffers from scoliosis – or curvature of the spine.
When she was first diagnosed two years ago, she had a twenty percent curve to her spine.
But recent x-rays reveal that the curvature has progressed to the stage where her spine is in an ‘S’ shape, which leaves her in extreme pain to the point where is regularly forced to miss school and had to cancel taking part in Christmas celebrations last year because she was in such agony.
In another case, pensioner Betty Rogers, from Offaly, said she considered taking an overdose of painkillers at once stage, such was the excruciating pain she lived with while she awaited spinal surgery.
Fortunately, she had a happy outcome.
After waiting almost two years for surgery, she is now able to walk a mile a day after she finally got the operation she desperately needed.
But she wasn’t the only patient who thought about ending their lives due to the agonising wait.
John Kelly from Co Kildare has been waiting for two years to have surgery performed on discs in his neck that has left him blacking out from pain.
He told RTE that the pain was so severe that he considered suicide as a means to end the agony.
The documentary reveals there are thousands of similar patients who are waiting for operations or procedures who are not in the official waiting list figures published by the National Treatment Purchase Fund.
“As a result, the true number of patients waiting on operations or procedures is not open to public scrutiny and from the evidence uncovered by RTÉ, the number is significantly higher than the official published figures,” according to an RTE spokesperson.
The documentary airs on RTE One at 9:35pm followed by a live discussion on the issues raised on Claire Byrne lives at 10:35pm.