Thursday 5 December 2019

'It's inhumane': Child waiting lists laid bare as figures show 'staggering' 117,463 are in queues for care

Fianna Fáil’s Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Fianna Fáil’s Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A shocking total of 117,463 children are now on some form of hospital waiting list across the country, new figures reveal.

The majority are facing a gruelling delay to see a specialist and are on outpatient waiting lists.

It follows recent revelations in the Irish Independent that so many young people are suffering a "stolen childhood" because of the time spent on hospital lists.

However, new figures obtained this week by Fianna Fáil TD Stephen Donnelly reveal hospitals now estimate 93,102 are waiting for a specialist appointment, 30,628 of whom have been in a queue for over a year.

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The figures show that overall an estimated 117,463 children are on some kind of waiting list for care including surgery, diagnostic scopes or follow-up assessments.

"These figures are staggering - it's the first time we've had a national snapshot of just how many children in Ireland are waiting for hospital care," Mr Donnelly said.

He said the fact that "117,000 boys and girls are waiting all over Ireland is inhumane".

"Many of these young people are in serious pain, many are getting sicker as they wait, many are going to need more serious medical interventions by the time they're finally seen," he added.

"Never before has so much money been spent in healthcare. And yet never before have this many children waited. In no other country in Europe do they have levels of waiting like this.

"There is no defending these figures. No amount of fast talking or press releases can explain this away. This is total failure by the current Government. And this is just one portion of the total number of children waiting.

"I asked for the number waiting for diagnostics, but was told those figures are not collected. I asked for the number of children waiting for speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, psychology, audiology and more.

"These figures will begin coming in shortly from the HSE and then we'll see just how complete the Government's failure is in one of its most important roles - ensuring the children of Ireland have access to healthcare."

Health Minister Simon Harris had said that €100m is being targeted at purchasing hospital appointments for adults and children next year.

The figures show that there are 7,081 waiting for surgery, including 4,365 in the three children's hospitals in Dublin.

Outside Dublin, the highest number waiting are in the west of Ireland.

Irish Independent

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