Tuesday 22 May 2018

Long delays for patients who need to be seen by specialists

More than 2,924 people are waiting more than 18 months to be seen in public clinics
More than 2,924 people are waiting more than 18 months to be seen in public clinics
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Patients who need investigations for ear, nose and throat conditions in public outpatient clinics are faring worst in the latest waiting list figures.

More than 2,924 people are waiting more than 18 months to be seen in public clinics.

Another 1,777 people are in the queue for more than a year and a half to see an orthopaedic surgeon.

They are among 13,176 people who are enduring long delays - of 18 months or over - to be seen by a specialist. This despite pledges that nobody would be waiting longer than the year and a half cut-off date announced earlier this year.

People with skin conditions are also losing out because of the long waits, the figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund reveal.

Elsewhere, another 2,200 patients are waiting for an operation over the time scale.

The HSE was unable to provide any analysis on why the target to have nobody waiting past 18 months wasn't being met other than to blame the recruitment and retention of staff as one of its main challenges.

It said that around €51.4m special funding remained available to reduce the maximum waiting time to 15 months.

Hospitals with the highest numbers of patients who are suffering the worst delays are Galway University Hospital, Tallaght Hospital, Cork University Hospital and Letterkenny General.

The rise in long-waiters came as the trolley crisis escalated again yesterday in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda where nurses estimated some 71 patients who needed to be in a bed were waiting at one stage.

The hospital had to go off call on Thursday night, diverting emergency patients to Cavan, Beaumont and Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown until it resumed normal admissions at 8am.

A spokesman for the hospital said there were around 48 patients on trolleys and confirmed that it had to go off call for the safety of both patients and staff.

Nationally, 341 patients were on trolleys waiting for a bed yesterday morning with overcrowding showing no sign of abating.

Others hospitals badly hit include Beaumont, Cork University Hospital, University Hospital Limerick and Naas General Hospital.

HSE chief Tony O' Brien - who was in Madrid on Thursday to address a heath leaders' conference - returned home yesterday to face the issue.

The conference was sponsored by Acelity, a major supplier of wound treatments to the HSE. Mr O'Brien had his expenses paid and received an honorarium payment which he is donating to charity.

A HSE spokeswoman said Joan Gallagher, the HSE's Director of Nursing who is policy analyst for the Office of the Director General, also attended separately as an invited participant.

"As a senior nurse Joan has been invited by the conference organisers to participate in a leadership forum looking at women's experience in healthcare leadership," she added.

Irish Independent

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