Cork and South/South-West hospital waiting lists grow to 148,000

ireland
Cork And South/South-West Hospital Waiting Lists Grow To 148,000 Cork And South/South-West Hospital Waiting Lists Grow To 148,000
One in seven of the local population are on outpatient waiting lists in Cork hospitals alone.
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James Cox

A total of 148,000 people are waiting for hospital treatment in the South/South-West Hospital Group — an increase of 45 per cent, or 45,800 additional people, in seven years.

One in seven of the local population are on outpatient waiting lists in Cork hospitals alone with wait time targets set for the end of 2022 unlikely to be met, according to consultants.

The group includes Cork University Hospital, Cork University Maternity Hospital, University Hospital Waterford, University Hospital Kerry, Mercy University Hospital, South Tipperary General Hospital, South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital, Bantry General Hospital, Mallow General Hospital and Lourdes Orthopaedic Hospital Kilcreene.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has today warned that failure to ensure competitiveness in recruiting and retaining consultants and to appoint a replacement Independent Chair for stalled contract talks is hampering recruitment efforts in the South/South-West region, and restricting patients from accessing essential timely, high-quality medical and surgical care.

Consultant shortages

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IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “The severe shortage of hospital consultants in our public health service in Cork and the southern region is the main contributor to the unacceptable delays in providing care to patients. These growing waiting lists demonstrate the impact of years of consultant shortages and underinvestment in capacity across public hospitals in the region, which must be addressed in discussions with the IHCA.”

Almost 133,000 people are waiting to be assessed by a hospital consultant in the region, with 57 per cent (76,000) of these on outpatient waiting lists in Cork University Hospital.

This is one in seven of the entire population of Co Cork and a 38 per cent increase (+21,000) since 2015.

The Government’s Waiting List Action Plan released in February pledged that by the end of 2022 almost all patients (98 per cent) will receive their inpatient/day case procedure within 12 months of being placed on the waiting list, and their first outpatient appointment within 18 months.

However, hospitals in the south of the country have 38,400 people currently waiting in excess of the waiting list targets set for the end of 2022. The specialities of ophthalmology, orthopaedics, ENT, pain relief, dermatology and neurosurgery have some of the largest number of people waiting 18 months or longer for assessment by a consultant.

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Already a quarter of all patients are currently waiting 12 months or longer for treatment at the following five hospitals: Mercy University Hospital (24 per cent), Cork University Hospital (26 per cent), Cork University Maternity Hospital (27 per cent), University Hospital Kerry (27 per cent) and University Hospital Waterford (28 per cent).

"These growing waiting lists mean the Government’s ambitious targets for the end of the year are unlikely to be met in the SSWHG or nationally," according to the IHCA.

Lists worsen as critical talks stall

While patients in the region continue to face long wait times, the IHCA has said that the failure to ensure competitiveness in recruiting and retaining consultants and to reconvene critical contract talks with consultants risks worsening the recruitment and retention crisis in public hospitals.

Of the 23 completed competitions run by the Public Appointments Service that failed to be filled in 2021, 30 per cent (7) were in the South/South-West Hospital Group. These included competitions to appoint "badly needed consultants" in Respiratory Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology.

The IHCA said that talks commenced last September but did not make adequate progress and have been stalled entirely since December, when the Independent Chair stepped down to take up a new role in the High Court. It was expected that a replacement Chair would have been appointed quickly.

 

 

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