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Temple Street vows to tackle waiting list

A major children's hospital said today it will start accepting routine GP referrals to its respiratory service from this month -- after suspending them because of a two-year backlog.

Temple Street hospital, said it was forced to temporarily suspend GP referrals in March/April last because the waiting time for a routine respiratory appointment had risen to two years "which the hospital felt was unacceptable".

"During this time, additional outpatient clinics have been held and a validation exercise was carried out on the respiratory waiting list (to ensure that it was accurate)," the hospital said.

"This combined approach has resulted in the reduction of the waiting time for a routine respiratory referral to six months, and six weeks for urgent referrals as of December 2009."

The Children's University Hospital is to recommence accepting routine GP referrals as of this month, its statement added. A second consultant respiratory physician will take up her appointment in April "which should help reduce the waiting times further", it said.

Its fundraising office had engaged in extensive activity "to facilitate the development of a dedicated Cystic Fibrosis and Respiratory Outpatient Unit".

Asthma

The total cost of the unit was €3.175m, which included a €705,000 contribution from the HSE. The new facility will be officially opened in at the end of March/early April, it said.

The respiratory clinic treats children with cystic fibrosis, asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis.

The HSE said it is working closely "with the three paediatric hospitals to put in place new arrangements for managing many of the paediatric services in a single stream, thereby ensuring that specialist expertise is shared as appropriate in order to ensure improved access".

"The objective of all these actions is to further reduce the waiting times for respiratory paediatric services.

"The HSE is fully committed to ensuring the highest standard of access and care for all children in Ireland," it added.

Fine Gael Health spokesman Dr James Reilly, had said the suspension of referrals to Temple Street's respiratory clinic was "a disgraceful sign of the way our hospitals are resourced" and would have serious consequences for children who need treatment.

His party wanted to see hospitals move to a "money follows the patient" system introduced so that the patient was always a priority, he said.

mlavery@herald.ie


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