Tuesday 17 September 2019

Up to 30,000 women 'facing a distressing wait for treatment'

Rhona Mahony: She will appear in a #CareCantWait campaign video. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Rhona Mahony: She will appear in a #CareCantWait campaign video. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Doctor Rhona Mahony has warned that the waiting list of 30,000 women to see a gynaecologist is having a huge and "distressing" impact on their quality of life.

The queue of women - who need to be seen by a specialist for a range of conditions including incontinence, endometriosis, problems with pregnancy and potential cancer symptoms - has escalated by 43pc in five years.

"Waiting lists have a huge impact on quality of life. There are so many simple procedures that can change a life and radically improve a patient's quality of life," Dr Mahony said.

"Not to be able to offer that to patients, in a country like Ireland, is really quite distressing, mainly for patients, but also for those giving care."

Ireland has the third-highest fertility rate in the EU but less than half the EU average of doctors who specialise in obstetrics and gynaecology.

More than 2,400 of the women have faced a delay of at least a year and a half to get an appointment with a gynaecologist.

A breakdown of hospitals with the highest waiting lists for a gynaecology appointment shows 3,838 are waiting in the Rotunda Hospital and 3,130 at Tallaght Hospital.

Galway University Hospital has 1,882 waiting and Letterkenny Hospital has 1,773.

Most hospitals have at least several hundred waiting, including 289 in Mayo, 763 in Kerry and 1,467 in Portlaoise.

Dr Mahony, former master of the National Maternity Hospital, is among a number of doctors who will appear on video supporting the campaign run on social media.

The #CareCantWait campaign run by the Irish Hospital Consultant Association's (IHCA) aims to highlight a shortage of specialists.

It is pointing to the one-in-five consultant posts which are without a permanent doctor and are either vacant or taken up on a temporary basis.

It comes as the waiting list to see all specialists has grown to 556,000 and is now at record levels.

Other doctors who feature on the campaign video include Prof Alf Nicholson, a paediatrician at Temple Street Hospital who said it was unacceptable to have children on a waiting list for longer than three to six months. "Sadly, at the moment our wait times are well above that," said Prof Nicholson.

Dr Laura Durcan, a rheumatologist and IHCA campaign spokesman, said: "The consultants of Ireland have now come to a point where they have to stand up and say it's not OK. None of this is OK. You should be able to access timely care."

Irish Independent

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