More than 6,300 patients waiting over a year for operation as crisis grows
THE number of people waiting more than a year for an operation has rocketed from just 183 a year ago to more than 6,300 now.
The startling figures come in the midst of the hospital overcrowding crisis which has already seen planned operations for hundreds of patients cancelled.
Beaumont Hospital in Dublin has suffered the biggest rise in the number of patients waiting more than a year for an operation.
The hospital had 1,120 patients waiting at least a year at the end of January, compared with just 83 at the same time last year.
Several other hospitals across the country have also seen an explosion in their longest waiters. Galway University Hospital has 886 patients waiting more than a year for an operation, up from just 14 a year ago, while St James's Hospital in Dublin now has 781 people on waiting lists, up from five a year go.
It follows a near clean slate in early 2014, after the HSE paid for thousands of patients to be treated privately.
But the ongoing overcrowding in hospital emergency departments has meant that an increasing number of public patients, who should have been operated on in recent weeks, are still in the queue because of a shortage of beds.
The waiting list figures show nationally 6,303 people were in the queue for more than a year at the end of January, compared with 183 at the start of 2014.
It comes as Health Minister Leo Varadkar met hospital managers yesterday to agree a set of measures to try to alleviate the continuing emergency department gridlock and free up beds.
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda had 50 emergency patients, most of them on trolleys, yesterday.
Mr Varadkar reiterated that he is in favour of making the Fair Deal nursing home support scheme demand-led, rather than budget-capped, which leads to funding being rationed.
"There are patients effectively trapped in hospitals because we cannot find nursing home care for them and it is something I cannot stand over for much longer," he added.
He intends to see if there is any funding to divert to the scheme within the HSE's existing budget.