Saturday 19 October 2019

Outpatient waiting lists hit new record of 560,251

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Hospital waiting lists have reached new records with 560,251 patients now in the queue to see a specialist.

This is a jump of 3,840 in the space of just a month.

The number of patients on public waiting lists for surgery also rose in June – up to 69,671 compared to 68,765 in May.

“And there was also a rise in patients needing scopes - rising to 22,758 compared to 22,113 in May, the National Treatment Purchase Fund reported.”

The upward trend is disappointing given that more inroads should be made in waiting lists at this time of year.

It comes as A&E departments are still suffering winter levels of overcrowding ,putting pressure on beds.

Meanwhile, University Hospital Limerick  Group today apologised to patients facing long waits in its A&E.

The main Limerick hospital is the most overcrowded in the country and is experiencing a surge in presentations.

“We have been working hard to progress patients through the system to discharge, so that we can free up beds for the patients in the emergency department who are awaiting admission.

“Surgery at University Hospital Limerick has been curtailed over the last number of days to enable us to use that bed capacity for patients in the emergency department.

“Access to transitional care and home care package funding has been reduced over the past two weeks, which has led to an increase in delayed discharges.

“However, we continue to work with our community colleagues to progress transition of appropriate patients to the community where possible.”

It is providing full care to all patients who are waiting in the Emergency Department.

“The enhanced infrastructures of the new emergency department enable us to accommodate a number of these patients in single rooms while in the department.

“We are maximising the use of the beds available across the group, and we have been moving patients on a daily basis to these sites.”

Fianna Fáil Health spokesperson on health Deputy Stephen Donnelly  said the latest hospital waiting lists show no sign of any relief for outpatients enduring long waits.

“Every month so far this year we have seen another new high for the outpatient waiting lists. In June it rose to 560,251.

“Over 174,000 of those waiting for a consultation are now doing so for more than a year – an extraordinary total. To put it in perspective only six counties in the republic have a population greater than that number.

“Minister Simon Harris set a very unambitious goal for 2019 of stabilising the outpatient list. However, an increase of almost 8pc since the end of last year shows that even that target has been missed too.

“In 2015 Leo Varadkar set a target that no-one would be waiting 18 months for an outpatient appointment by the end of June that year. Four years on over 100,000 are now in that bracket – that’s 100,000 people waiting since the end of 2017.

“In relation to the inpatient/day case list it is disappointing that this has shown a slight upturn to more than 69,000. It may have been that the industrial action last month was responsible for this. This is one that will have to be watched.”

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