News

1st December 2021

Patient waiting lists at hospitals in North-East have increased by up to 50%

Orthopaedics, Dermatology, Gynaecology, and Rheumatology outpatient waiting lists in North-East hospitals increased by 49%, or 5,182 additional people, in past six years;  15,868 people awaiting assessment by a Consultant in Orthopaedics, Dermatology, Gynaecology and Rheumatology at Cavan, Drogheda, Dundalk and Navan hospitals; Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan has seen outpatient waiting lists almost double compared with 2015; Our Lady of Lourdes, Drogheda now has the fourth largest Dermatology outpatient waiting list (4,500 people) in the entire country; One in four approved permanent hospital Consultant posts in the North-East are not filled as needed, which is the root cause of delays in providing timely care to the 36,000 people on waiting lists in the region. IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “The severe shortage of consultants across the North-East region is the main contributor to the unacceptable delays in providing care to patients. The Government must make good on its promise to deliver the extra beds, extra consultants and extra facilities so badly needed to meet the healthcare needs of the 36,000 people in the North-East currently waiting to be assessed or treated by a hospital Consultant.”
16th November 2021

HSE Winter Plan risks seeing the health service slide back into pre-pandemic stagnation

Delay in publishing plan does not bode well for difficult weeks and months ahead; Shortfalls in beds and staffing already causing delays and cancellations for the 904,000 people on hospital waiting lists;  Prediction of severe flu season on top of continued Covid-19 pressures and ED overcrowding could result in ‘most challenging winter in years’; Strategic, empathetic leadership needed to deliver multi-annual plans for the health service, with devolved, local decision making and implementation at its core.   Commenting on the publication of the HSE Winter Plan 2021-22 on Monday 15 November 2021, Professor Alan Irvine, President of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) said: 
12th November 2021

Government target to reduce waiting lists by 36,600 by year end will not be met, warns IHCA

Instead of reduction of 18,300 people on waiting lists by end of October, numbers have reduced by 10,700 since August – a 7,600 shortfall; 904,000 people still on some form of public hospital waiting list; 97,400 of these are children; 70-fold increase seen in the number of patients waiting over 12 months for hospital inpatient or day case treatment since 2012; 217 people have been added to public hospital waiting lists every single day since the start of 2021 – that’s 9 people added every hour, 24 hours a day; Ongoing Consultant contract discussions critically important to filling the 1 in 5 vacant consultant posts and reducing waiting lists. IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “The four-month waiting list action plan published by the Department of Health and HSE in October was never ambitious enough, given the fact that we have nearly 1 million people waiting for care. Unfortunately, the plan’s modest targets are now unlikely to be met by year end. Any medium-term Government plan to address the record waiting lists which does not simultaneously address the Consultant recruitment and retention crisis is destined to fail.” 
10th November 2021

77,000 people on ENT waiting lists, some waiting up to five years — cancer diagnoses could be missed, says surgeon

Ear, nose and throat waiting lists are some of the longest across all specialties
4th November 2021

Over 285,000 people in Dublin could face longer waits for care this winter as consultants call for urgent Government action to prepare hospitals

Over the past six years almost 87,000 additional people have been added to outpatient waiting lists at Dublin hospitals which now total 242,000 - a 56% increase overall. Number of patients waiting longer than a year for hospital treatment has increased by 42% since 2015, with a massive 4-fold increase in children waiting longer than 12 months for care. Predicted severe flu season would make catching up on backlog of missed care extremely challenging say hospital consultants. Consultant recruitment crisis in Dublin’s acute hospital and mental health services is root cause of delays in providing care, accounting for over one third of all consultant posts unfilled on permanent basis nationally. IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “Our health service, hospital management and clinical teams in the capital need fully funded plans in place to fill the 240 vacant permanent consultant posts across Dublin’s acute hospital and mental health services and increase hospital capacity, ahead of what may be the most challenging winter ever for the health service.” 
26th October 2021

69,000 people waiting for care across hospitals in the Mid-West region as Consultants call for urgent Government action

Over the past six years nearly 31,000 additional people have been added to outpatient waiting lists at hospitals in the Mid-West region - a 113% increase overall; The inpatient/day case waiting lists in the UL Hospitals Group have increased by a third over the same period, and now total 6,075 patients;  University Hospital Limerick has the second highest outpatient waiting list in the country, increasing nearly three-fold since 2015 to over 48,000 people; Consultant recruitment crisis in region’s hospitals is root cause of delays in providing care, with around 1 in 3 permanent Consultant posts vacant or not filled as needed. IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “The severe shortage of consultants across the UL Hospitals Group is the main contributor to the unacceptable delays in providing care to patients in the Mid-West region. Meeting the healthcare needs of the 69,000 people currently waiting to be assessed or treated by a Consultant at hospitals within the group will only be possible by urgently filling these vacancies and expanding the region’s hospital beds, operating theatre and other essential hospital facilities now.” 
16th October 2021

Any waiting list plan which does not address Consultant shortages will plan to fail, warns IHCA

Record 910,000 people now on some form of public hospital waiting list; More than 1 million people predicted to be waiting for treatment by the end of the year; 98,190 children on NTPF waiting lists; 4 in 10 waiting longer than a year to be assessed by a Consultant; Almost 150-fold increase seen in the number of patients waiting over 12 months for hospital inpatient or day case treatment since 2012; Number waiting for an outpatient appointment with a Consultant has increased by over 41,000 in the past year alone and by almost 175,000 (37%) since May 2017, when Sláintecare reforms were launched; 261 people have been added to public hospital waiting lists every single day since the start of 2021 – almost 11 people added every hour, 24 hours a day; Ongoing Consultant contract discussions critically important to filling the 1 in 5 vacant consultant posts and reducing waiting lists Prof Alan Irvine, President, IHCA: “The ongoing talks between the Department of Health, the HSE and hospital consultant representatives concerning employment contracts must deliver on the ‘unambiguous commitment’ made by the Minister for Health to resolve the pay inequity issue for all Consultants contracted since 2012. This issue is critical to filling the one in five permanent consultant posts that are currently vacant or filled on a temporary basis and reducing these unacceptable patient waiting times. If Government fails to develop a meaningful plan to fill the more than 720 permanent Consultant posts that remain vacant, its plan on reducing waiting lists will fail.”
12th October 2021

Allocation of health budget needs to be applied if patients are to get timely access to care

Irish Hospital Consultants Association – Statement on Budget 2022 Announcement 
8th October 2021

Rebuilding trust between healthcare professionals and health service management critical to reducing waiting lists and delivering for patients

208 people have been added to public hospital waiting lists every single day over the past year – almost 9 people an hour, 24 hours a day;  Trust and culture within the Irish public health service must be addressed in order to tackle unacceptable waiting lists, capacity deficits and failures in the recruitment and retention of medical specialists;   New #CareCantWait campaign video launched by Association to highlight the impact of the consultant crisis on the ongoing plight of people waiting for care;  IHCA Annual Conference will hear from Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD, and Opposition Spokesperson David Cullinane TD. IHCA President, Professor Alan Irvine: “Unless we change health service management culture, do the hard work of re-establishing trust, and improve working relationships, it is difficult to see how the Department can ever deliver an effective and empathetic public health service for the Irish people.”
15th September 2021

Health solutions 'hiding in plain sight' and must be funded under Budget 2022

Irish Hospital Consultants Association launches Pre-Budget Submission;  Consultants say additional funding for Covid must be retained and redeployed as needed to fund significant deficits in acute public hospital care;  Failure to set, resource and achieve more robust targets is leading to longer waiting lists, with over 290,000 people waiting longer than a year to be assessed or treated by a hospital consultant;  6,000 additional acute public hospital beds required under revised National Development Plan by 2030 – with half of these beds needed urgently within the next 3 years;  Fill the 1 in 5 vacant permanent consultant posts without delay and appoint additional consultants to urgently assess and treat the 907,617 people on hospital waiting lists across the country.  IHCA President, Professor Alan Irvine: “The 2022 Health Budget needs to ensure that public hospital and mental health services have sufficient levels of current and capital funding to provide timely, high-quality care to patients. There is a high risk, in the aftermath of the extraordinary challenges we have all experienced since March 2020, that accumulated stress, health and general wellbeing problems will adversely impact on healthcare staff - and ultimately our patients. The solutions are ‘hiding in plain sight’. The Government must embrace them and implement them, so that our public health service is fit for purpose for the patients of today and in the years to come.”
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