Friday 13 December 2019

Revealed: Where Ireland ranks for 'worst hospital waiting lists in Europe' (and it's not good)

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Ireland has the worst hospital waiting lists in Europe, according to a new league table.

The number of Irish patients waiting for surgery or an outpatient appointment is "abysmal", the Euro Health Consumer Index of 2017 concluded.

Ireland also dropped from 21st to 24th place in the healthcare index of 35 countries.

It comes after a year of spiralling waiting lists as thousands of patients are forced to endure delays for care beyond the 18-month target.

The report said Ireland aims "at a target of no more than 18 months' wait for a specialist appointment. Even if and when that target is reached, it will still be the worst waiting time situation in Europe."

Ireland scored well in several areas, including access to drugs, low infant mortality and lowering the rates of the superbug MRSA.

The report said European healthcare is steadily improving - infant mortality and survival rates for heart disease, stroke and cancer are all moving in the right direction.

"Patient choice and involvement are developing. But still too many countries stick to inefficient ways to fund and deliver care services," said the report.

"Learning from not only established successes such as the Netherlands and Switzerland, but also small countries doing the right thing can be a general improvement strategy: Finland, Slovakia, Montenegro and Macedonia," it added.

The report said healthcare is basically a process industry.

"As any professional manager from such an industry would know, smooth procedures with a minimum of pause or interruption is key to keeping costs low. This is why process fragmentation with long waiting lists causes higher costs, not cost-saving; the latter is a myth still heralded in most NHS system countries with abysmal waiting times such as Ireland, UK, Norway and Sweden."

The Government has allocated €55m this year in additional funding to tackle waiting lists.

But another backlog is already building up due to the A&E crisis and the cancellation of non-emergency surgery.

Meanwhile, there were 543 patients on trolleys waiting for a bed across the country yesterday.

Irish Independent

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