News

13th May 2022

Hospital waiting lists longer than ever at halfway point of 10-year Sláintecare plan, say Consultants

Limited progress made as public hospitals still decades away from achieving Sláintecare wait time targets due to growing capacity deficits 898,000 people on some form of NTPF waiting list; up more than 314,000 (54%) since publication of Sláintecare Report in May 2017;  Government’s landmark plan pledged no-one should wait more than 10 weeks for a public hospital outpatient appointment, yet 345,000 currently on outpatient waiting lists for over 6 months — with almost a 3-fold increase in patients waiting +18 months in past five years; Sláintecare target wait time of just 10 days set for a public hospital diagnostic test; latest figures reveal 143,000 waiting more than 3 months for vital CTs, MRIs or ultrasounds with over 57,000 waiting a year or longer;   Stalled Consultant contract talks must be reconvened with an agreed replacement Independent Chair to address Consultant recruitment crisis and bring waiting lists down.  IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “The first five years of the 10-year Sláintecare plan have shown that its waiting list targets are not achievable because public hospitals have a severe shortage of Consultants, theatres, acute beds, diagnostic and other facilities. The continuing deficits in hospital Consultants and public hospital capacity means it could be decades before the waiting time targets set out in Sláintecare can be achieved.”  
4th May 2022

‘Perfect storm’ of pandemic, increased demand and shortage of staff causing worrying delays in Gynaecology care

Lack of modern public hospital facilities, capacity and expertise means those with non-urgent conditions can face significant delays in receiving care – says leading Consultant  Ageing facilities, lack of adequate theatre space and shortage of specialist surgical teams is causing ‘competition’ between Obstetrics and Gynaecology care and creating a trade-off in delivery of women’s health services;  Patients can routinely be waiting up to 6 to 8 months for an assessment, risking delayed diagnoses of gynaecological cancers or preventing timely access to care for painful conditions such as uterine fibroids or endometriosis; Longest average wait times for outpatient gynaecology appointments are at Tallaght (652 days), Ennis (506 days) and Nenagh (355) Hospitals; Hospital Consultant recruitment and retention crisis worsens with more than 830 permanent posts not filled as needed – as regional and smaller hospitals face additional recruitment challenges; Professor Sam Coulter-Smith: “Services that can take patients that would originally have gone to theatre and treat them on an outpatient basis will significantly help to reduce waiting lists – however, you need the space and the staff to do it.” The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has today (4 May) warned of mounting delays for people waiting for planned Gynaecology procedures as a result of competition between services for scarce capacity and resources.
21st April 2022

Statement by the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) on the South Kerry CAMHS Review and Compensation Scheme

Commenting, the President of the IHCA, Professor Alan Irvine said: 
14th April 2022

Worsening waiting list crisis revealed as child waiting lists top 100,000 for first time

 1 in 12 children are now on some form of hospital waiting list across the country as Consultant vacancies increase, says IHCA Record 100,089 children now on some form of NTPF waiting list; more than 1 in 3 (34,300) waiting longer than a year for treatment or assessment by a Hospital Consultant; Additional 8,300 children awaiting diagnostic scans at three Dublin children’s hospitals not included in NTPF waiting lists;  Almost 1 in 5 Consultant Paediatric posts are vacant or filled on a temporary basis;  Stalled Consultant contract talks must be reconvened with replacement Independent Chair to address Consultant recruitment crisis and bring waiting lists down.  IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “For the first time, the monthly NTPF figures have recorded over 100,000 children on waiting lists for hospital care, with more than one in three of these children waiting longer than a year to be treated or assessed by a Consultant. This trend is worrying and is resulting in thousands of children not getting the care they need in a timely way, and the real possibility that they will suffer health and developmental issues that could have been reversed or mitigated against if only they were seen in time.”
12th April 2022

148,000 people waiting for hospital care in Cork and South/South-West hospitals as lists continue to soar

1 in 7 of the local population on outpatient waiting lists in Cork hospitals alone with wait time targets set for end of 2022 unlikely to be met, say Consultants 148,000 people waiting for hospital treatment in the South/South-West Hospital Group — an increase of 45% or 45,800 additional people in seven years; Consultant recruitment crisis in the region evident as 30% of completed competitions for Consultant posts that failed to be filled in 2021 were for posts in the South/South-West Hospital Group;  Local politicians raise concerns with Department of Health and HSE as agreed replacement Independent Chair for stalled Consultant contract talks not yet appointed.    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.”    The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has today (12th April 2022) 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.   There were over 148,000 people waiting for inpatient or day case treatment, outpatient appointments or GI (Gastrointestinal) scopes in the South/South West Hospital Group (SSWHG)* at the end of February — an increase of 45% or 45,800 additional people in seven years.    Almost 133,000 people are waiting to be assessed by a hospital Consultant in the region, with 57% (76,000) of these on outpatient waiting lists in Cork hospital. This is 1 in 7 of the entire population of Cork County and a 38% increase (+21,000) since 2015.**   Patients waiting longer for care   The Government’s Waiting List Action Plan released in February pledged that by the end of 2022 almost all patients (98%) 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 specialties 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.*** 
25th March 2022

Extra caution needed to protect public and hospitals from latest Covid wave

Cancelling essential scheduled surgeries, diagnostic investigations, and outpatient appointments cannot be the go-to solution to hospital capacity deficits  The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has today (25 March 2022) urged the public to use a higher degree of caution over the coming weeks given the widespread community transmission of the coronavirus and the resulting increase in hospitalisations. 
21st March 2022

New data reveals worsening hospital staffing crisis as 837 Consultant posts now remain unfilled

New data analysis shows number of unfilled consultant posts rises to 837 – an increase of 15% in less than a year;  More than a fifth (22%) of all consultant posts are now vacant or filled on a temporary basis; Number of vacant Consultant posts has increased by a quarter in less than a year; temporary/locum posts have increased by a fifth; 896,600 people on some form of public hospital waiting list; over 99,000 of these are children;  Consultants call for the immediate appointment of an agreed Independent Chair to allow for the urgent resumption of contract talks and the reversal of the Government’s 2012 Consultant pay discrimination. IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “The fact that now over 800 posts cannot be filled as needed is an unequivocal signal to Government and health service management that the current conditions in Ireland’s system do not create an environment that skilled medical and surgical specialists want to work in...as a result, Irish patients are not getting the hospital and mental health treatment that they need.”
11th March 2022

Government waiting list action plan ‘falls at first hurdle’, says IHCA

896,600 people on some form of public hospital waiting list; over 99,000 of these are children; 12,800 people added to three main waiting lists in the first two months of 2022, missing Government reduction target by 34,800, despite new waiting list action plan;   Latest €350m plan launched just two weeks ago unlikely to meet target of reducing waiting lists by 132,000 (18%) by end of 2022;   Urgent action needed to address public hospital capacity deficits and Consultant vacancies, say Consultants. IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “The 2022 Waiting List Action Plan published by the Department of Health just two weeks ago has fallen at the first hurdle. The NTPF figures released today confirm our fears that these waiting lists may take a decade or more to get under control without simultaneously resolving the Consultant recruitment and retention crisis in our public hospitals and filling the one in five Consultant posts vacant or filled on a temporary basis.”
7th March 2022

Ireland needs to almost double the number of Orthopaedic Consultants to reach a national target set nearly 20 years ago and meet demand

The Hanly Report, published in 2003, recommended that Ireland needed 4 Orthopaedic Consultants per 100,000 population – today, there are still only 2.4 per 100,000
1st March 2022

IHCA Statement on the HSE National Service Plan 2022

Commenting on today’s publication of the HSE National Service Plan 2022, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) said:
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