News

29th May 2024

IHCA response to Government’s new target of an additional 3,000 beds by 2031

Commenting on the Government’s new target of an additional 3,000 beds by 2031, the IHCA said:     “In response to repeated, broken promises on hospital beds, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) remains cautious regarding pronouncements of this nature, particularly as the delivery of additional inpatient beds is happening at too slow a pace.   “In April 2023, the IHCA cautiously welcomed the Minister for Health’s announcement of a rapid build programme to open 1,500 additional public hospital beds across 15 acute public hospital sites.[1] However, over a year on from this and we have yet to see any of these beds come on stream. We now seek clarification as to how the 1,541 beds due by the end of 2028 and the 2,997 beds due by 2031 announced today differ from those already promised in 2023, and urge the Government to provide the promised €1 billion capital budget to open these beds as indicated without delay.   “Additionally, the figure of 3,000 beds falls well short of the needs which will face the country by 2031.[2] That the Minister is publicly acknowledging that our bed capacity is way behind what is needed is notable in and of itself.   “The urgency of expanding hospital capacity is further reinforced by the Minister’s acknowledgement that the 2018 Capacity Review – which proposed an increase of just 2,600 acute public beds by 2031 – “lowballed” the hospital capacity needs. In the 6 years since the 2018 Capacity Review and National Development Plan, which committed to open 260 hospital beds per annum, only 1,182 additional beds have been added. This is almost a quarter (23%) behind the commitment.   “In addition, just two of the promised six national surgical hubs are likely to be open by the end of year, with the four elective hospitals not due to receive their first patients before 2027 at the earliest.   “While announcements of new hospital beds may be politically expedient in a year in which elections grow closer, it does nothing to address the chronic capacity shortages which are preventing the delivery of timely care across the country. At some point, the Government is going to need to start delivering on their promises to deliver, rather than kicking the can down the road, while the problem continues to grow.    “To fully address the chronic lack of capacity, Government must stay focused on delivering the required beds, to reduce our bed occupancy rates, which are among the highest in the developed world at 95%, address the increased numbers of admitted patients being treated on trolleys, and reduce the cancellation of appointments and waiting lists.”   ENDS   For information: Darragh Duncan, FINN Partners, daragh.duncan@finnpartners.com / 085 121 5011
21st May 2024

Leading Psychiatrist says wider mental health services essential for young people post-Covid

Consultant Psychiatrist says access to community services crucial as post-Covid mental health issues rise amongst young people; Around 3,760 children and adolescents awaiting an appointment with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service – a 62% increase compared with pre-pandemic levels;  New HSE data obtained by IHCA confirms 28% of Consultant Psychiatry posts are vacant or filled on a temporary basis; more than 1 in 3 CAMHS Psychiatry posts not filled as needed; There has been a worsening in children’s mental health which has been exacerbated by Covid-19 and subsequent lockdowns; Surge in referrals and an increase in very sick young people, particularly those with eating disorders, self-harm and suicidality; Dr Elaine Lockhart: “Lockdowns really removed children from their usual routine, structure and predictability. They couldn’t meet friends and access activities and that triggered quite an increase in those seeking care.” A leading Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist says children and young people need better access to mental health services, particularly within their own communities.
10th May 2024

Sláintecare targets will remain out of reach without accelerated capacity expansion, say Consultants

This month marks the seventh anniversary of the Government’s 10-year plan, yet waiting lists continue to grow as limited progress made Almost 902,000 people on some form of NTPF waiting list; up over 318,000 (55%) since publication of Sláintecare Report in May 2017; First time since September 2022 that total has exceeded 900,000; Government’s landmark plan pledged to dramatically reduce wait times for public hospital care to weeks rather than months or years, yet numbers on waiting lists continue to grow; IHCA Vice President Prof Gabrielle Colleran: “Even if the Sláintecare waiting list targets seem further away than ever, the Government must stay focused on delivering the required solutions and capacity that will enable us to provide timely care to patients in need. This includes fast-tracking the opening of long-promised additional acute hospital capacity and simultaneously filling the one in five Consultant posts that are vacant or filled on a temporary basis.” The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has today (Friday 10th May 2024) called on the Government to mark the seventh anniversary of Sláintecare this month by delivering long-promised additional acute hospital capacity in order to cut waiting lists.
3rd May 2024

Unprecedented demand forces the pause and rationing of diagnostic scans as 260,000 people remain on waiting lists

IHCA calls on the Department of Health to increase funding to the NTPF for the provision of diagnostic scans Vouchers for 55,000 radiology scans already issued by NTPF by end of February; 79% of allocation for entire year;   Remaining balance of scans (15,000) to be rationed across health regions;  Over 260,000 people on diagnostic waiting list at end of 2023; an increase of 75,700 people (41%) over the past four years; More than one-fifth are waiting longer than a year for essential scans; IHCA President Prof Rob Landers: “The Association is extremely concerned that the NTPF has decided to pause and ration these diagnostic scans for the remainder of 2024, due to a lack of available funds. The withdrawal of the scheme is also counterproductive given that the NTPF continues to fund other clinical waiting lists initiatives which serve to generate more radiology requests.” The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has warned of the potential impact on patient outcomes from new restrictions on the issuing of vouchers for diagnostic scans by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF).
15th April 2024

Response to Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service and Department of Health report

Comment by President of Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA), Professor Rob Landers on Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service and Department of Health report:
12th April 2024

New data shows current waiting lists may take over a decade to clear - IHCA

Despite lowered Government reduction targets for 2024, waiting lists continue to grow 24,300 people added to three main waiting lists in the first three months of 2024, missing new Government reduction target by over 34,000; Consultants criticise lack of ambition of Government’s new Action Plan which lowers previous reduction targets of 18% and 10% over past two years to just 6% by end of 2024; less than a 3% reduction was achieved last year; Projected cuts in waiting lists dependent on NTPF removing more than 117,000 people without any treatment through ‘validation programme’; 129,000 were removed from the waiting lists in 2023 under same scheme;  896,500 people on some form of public hospital waiting list at end of first quarter of 2024; an increase of 313,000 (54%) compared with May 2017 when Sláintecare published;   Latest €437m Waiting List Plan will not meet targets unless Government addresses public hospital capacity deficits and Consultant vacancies, say IHCA. IHCA Vice President Prof Gabrielle Colleran: “The NTPF figures released today confirm Consultants’ grave concerns that these waiting lists may take a decade or more to get under control unless the opening of long-promised additional hospital capacity is fast-tracked by the Government, and simultaneously the one in five Consultant posts vacant or filled on a temporary basis are permanently filled.”   The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has today (Friday 12th April 2024) warned that the Government’s Waiting List Action Plan for 2024, launched just over two weeks ago, has already fallen at the first hurdle, just as its previous plans have done over the past two years.   Commenting as the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) released its figures for the end of March, the IHCA said that the three main waiting lists for hospital appointments and treatments have increased by 24,300 (4%) in the first three months of 2024 alone.1 This is compared with an expected pro rata target reduction of 9,800 people by the end of March, giving a shortfall already of over 34,000.     The €437 million Action Plan for 20242 has set a target to reduce waiting lists for outpatient appointments and inpatient and day case treatment and procedures by 39,300 (6%) by the end of December compared with the number waiting at the start of the year. Similar Action Plans in 2022 and 2023 had set ambitious reduction targets of 18% and 10%, but only cut waiting lists by 4% and 3% respectively.    The modest decrease last year was only achieved by removing more than 129,000 people from the waiting lists without any treatment through an NTPF ‘validation programme’.3 This year’s projected cuts in waiting lists are again dependent on the NTPF removing more than 117,000 people without any treatment under the same administrative scheme.   Over 896,500 people were on some form of NTPF waiting list at the end of the first quarter, including numerous less publicised pre-admit, planned procedure and suspension lists, which collectively total over 200,000 for the very first time. The total number of people currently on waiting lists is an increase of almost 313,000 (54%) compared with May 2017 when Sláintecare was published.     Commenting on today’s NTPF figures, IHCA Vice President Professor Gabrielle Colleran said:   “The 2024 Waiting List Action Plan published by the Department of Health just two weeks ago has already fallen at the first hurdle, as did the two previous plans in 2022 and 2023. While we welcome any funding which aims to cut these unacceptably long waiting lists and allow patients access to the care they require, perhaps it is time the Government takes a different approach, if it is doing the same thing over and over again and still expecting to get different results.   “The NTPF figures released today confirm Consultants’ grave concerns that these waiting lists may take a decade or more to get under control unless the opening of long-promised additional hospital capacity is fast-tracked by the Government, and simultaneously the one in five Consultant posts vacant or filled on a temporary basis are permanently filled.   “Unfortunately, we are not confident that any of the 19 actions listed in the Government’s new Waiting List Plan – itself a reduction from the 30 actions listed last year – will adequately address the fundamental issue of the overwhelming shortage of acute hospital beds, outpatient facilities, theatres, diagnostics and other frontline resources required to bring these unacceptable waiting lists down.” 
28th March 2024

Waiting list targets cannot be achieved unless Government fast-track planned additional hospital capacity

Acceptance that inpatient and day case waiting lists will soar to 97,000 by end of year reflects the scale of the crisis we are in.  The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has warned that the Government’s waiting list reduction targets for 2024 cannot be achieved unless the opening of planned additional hospital capacity is fast-tracked by the Government.  
8th March 2024

Two-thirds increase in exodus of specialists poses risk to patients 

Commenting on today’s (Friday, 8th March 2024) publication of the Medical Council’s ‘Medical Workforce Intelligence Report 2022’, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) expressed its concern at the rise in the number of specialists deciding to leave the Irish health service.
8th March 2024

111,000 people added to waiting lists despite €1.2bn spent on reduction measures since 2020

Consultants warn Action Plan for 2024 is unlikely to achieve significant cuts in waiting lists without fast-tracking increased capacity Over 889,000 people on some form of NTPF waiting list at the end of February 2024; an increase of 111,000 in the past four years;  €1.2bn spent on waiting list initiatives since 2020, with further €407m pledged for Action Plan in 2024 due to be unveiled; Hospital cancellations expected to reach 260,000 in 2023 when full-year figures are released; With additional 260,000 awaiting diagnostic scans, the total number of people on hospital waiting lists is over 1.1 million; IHCA President Prof Rob Landers: “The Government needs to fast-track the opening of the promised 1,500 additional rapid build hospital beds across 15 acute public hospital sites this year and avoid deferring their delivery any further. The impact that the increased presentations to Emergency Departments and the resulting cancellation of surgical procedures is having on patients is clear evidence of the urgent need for this additional capacity.” More than 111,000 people have been added to hospital waiting lists in the past four years, despite the Government spending a staggering €1.2 billion over the same period on initiatives aimed at reducing patient wait times.
23rd February 2024

IHCA Statement on worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza

Irish Hospital Consultants Association statement on the Israel-Hamas war, impact on healthcare professionals and hospitals, and worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza On behalf of our nationwide membership of 3,800 hospital consultants, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) is deeply concerned by the healthcare and humanitarian crises in Gaza and the Middle East.
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