News

9th May 2023

Patient health in the West/North-West at risk due to excessive delays to care – says IHCA 

Public hospitals in Saolta University Health Care Group have unmanageable waiting lists with over 131,000 people waiting for care;  Waiting lists for outpatient appointments, inpatient/day case treatment and procedures in the region have increased by 3,400 (3%) since start of the year; and by 39,000 (42%) since 2015; 2,850 appointments and operations cancelled at hospitals in Saolta Group between December 2022 and January 2023; No additional acute hospital beds planned in 2023; just 7% of all new inpatient beds opened nationally since 2020 have been in the West/North-West, despite region accounting for one sixth of the national population;   IHCA President Prof Robert Landers: “There is a serious concern that unmanageable waiting lists for care are severely impacting healthcare outcomes for some of our most vulnerable patients. Government needs to agree, fund and timetable plans to expand hospital capacity and Consultant staffing in the West and North-West region.” The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has today (9 May 2023) warned that the growing shortage of essential acute hospital beds and Consultants across the West and North-West region is resulting in waiting lists for treatment that is impacting on patient outcomes.
14th April 2023

Waiting list targets may never be met due to record high bed occupancy rates and appointment cancellations

Government must reduce record 95% bed occupancy rates by rapidly delivering extra capacity in our hospitals if waiting lists are to be addressed; 41,000 appointments and operations cancelled in January and February alone will further increase pressure on Waiting List Action Plan for 2023;  885,600 people on some form of public hospital waiting list at end of March; an increase of 15,500 since the start of the year and an additional 300,000 (52%) compared with May 2017 when Sláintecare published; Consultant vacancies remain at record high of 915 permanent posts vacant or filled on a temporary basis;   IHCA President Prof Robert Landers: “Occupancy rates at this extreme level result in regular bed shortages, increased numbers of admitted patients being treated on trolleys, higher levels of healthcare acquired infections and cancellation of appointments in addition to growing waiting lists.”  The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has today (Friday 14 April 2023) warned that waiting list reduction targets for 2023 will never be met unless hospital bed occupancy rates are significantly reduced by rapidly delivering extra capacity in our public hospitals.
6th April 2023

Consultants seek clarification on Government’s proposed €1 billion ‘accelerated hospital bed-building plan’

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association say delivering extra capacity in our hospitals requires “more than bricks and mortar” IHCA warns that 5,000 hospital beds are needed by 2030, with at least an additional 2,000 permanent Consultants;  Yet just 157 acute hospital beds were added to the system in 2022 and only 196 additional approved permanent Consultant posts were filled; Delivery of basic infrastructure alone is not enough and must coexist with plans to fully resource and staff proposed new hospital beds; IHCA President Prof Robert Landers: “Government must take a whole-of-service approach. To ensure this new initiative is successful, they must work in parallel with hospital management and medical specialists to put in place a clear, time-bound and fully funded staffing plan, so that when this new rapid build capacity comes on stream, there are the Consultants, doctors, nurses, porters and others needed to ensure we are providing care to patients in those beds from day one.”  The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has called on the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to clarify plans announced this week, which are aimed at rapidly delivering up to 1,500 new hospital beds across the country in 2023 and 2024. 
31st March 2023

Cancellation of scheduled appointments and operations across Mid-West should not be the go-to solution for overcrowding, warn Consultants

Over 3,500 appointments and operations cancelled at hospitals in UL Hospitals Group between December 2022 and January 2023; Urgent expansion in capacity needed, with immediate additional 100 acute beds required and at least 400 extra beds; Record number of vacant Consultant posts need to be filled by permanent specialists;  Mr Colin Peirce, IHCA: “Medical and surgical staff on the ground have never experienced such sustained levels of stress from not being able to provide the care that their patients desperately need. For us to be able to do our work, we need to see a significant expansion in hospital capacity across the UL Hospitals Group without delay, including additional beds, diagnostic equipment, and the recruitment of additional Consultants together with the support staff to ensure surgeons can work to clear waiting lists.” The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has urged health service management to significantly increase bed capacity and maximise operating theatre usage across the UL Hospitals Group,1 to address the repeated cancellation of hospital appointments and operations in response to ongoing emergency department (ED) overcrowding.
15th March 2023

Former Surgeon says ‘name, blame, shame, retrain’ culture across health service is not the solution

Surgical specialist turned pilot says aviation safety models should be adopted within the Irish health service to significantly benefit patient care and outcomes ‘Name, blame, shame, retrain’ culture is placing extra strain on staff already under immense pressure in challenging working conditions. Staff shortages and a lack of capacity means Consultants and other medical professionals cannot work to the best of their ability, increasing the potential for error. Over 900 permanent Consultant posts nationally remain either vacant or filled on a temporary or agency basis which is compounding the issue of safety. Captain Niall Downey “In aviation we assume we are going to get it wrong, and all our systems are designed around that. We expect error, we don’t blame the individual for that”. Airline Captain Niall Downey, a former Cardiothoracic Surgeon, has said the Government should implement an aviation style safety model when it comes to healthcare. 
10th March 2023

Downgraded waiting list action plan falls at first hurdle – IHCA

Lowered reduction targets for end of 2023 dependent on removing record 146,000 patients through ‘validation’ of lists 14,800 people added to three main waiting lists in the first two months of 2023, missing Government reduction target by over 26,000; Consultants criticise lack of ambition of Government’s new Action Plan which lowers previous reduction target of 18% to 10% this year; a 4% reduction was achieved in 2022; Projected cuts in waiting lists are dependent on NTPF removing 146,000 people without any treatment through ‘validation programme’; more than double the validation target of 60,000 in last year’s Action Plan;   885,000 people on some form of public hospital waiting list at end of February; an increase of 300,000 (52%) compared with May 2017 when Sláintecare published;   Latest €443m Action Plan unlikely to meet waiting list targets unless Government addresses public hospital capacity deficits and Consultant vacancies, say Consultants. IHCA President Prof Robert Landers: “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 severe capacity deficits in our public hospitals and filling the one in five Consultant posts vacant or filled on a temporary basis.”
7th March 2023

IHCA Statement on new Consultant Contract

Comment by spokesperson for Irish Hospital Consultants Association   
10th February 2023

Waiting lists likely to stagnate or rise in 2023 as hospital activity yet to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels

Deficits in hospital capacity and Consultant vacancies hampering the return of planned medical and surgical activity to the level seen before the Covid-19 pandemic, says IHCA 877,600 people on some form of NTPF waiting list at the end of January 2023; 101,000 (+13%) more than in the same month in 2020; Inpatient/day case waiting list at highest level since June 2020, with 83,477 patients awaiting treatment;  Increased volume of activity will only be achieved by addressing the twin deficits of public hospital capacity and a shortage of Consultants. IHCA President Prof Robert Landers: “Consultants are very concerned not enough is being done to increase hospital capacity so patients can be treated as needed.  It is only when capacity is increased and additional Consultants are appointed will we see treatment volumes in public hospitals grow significantly above pre-pandemic levels. That will start to address the backlog of care and bring waiting lists down.”
8th February 2023

Consultant shortages and capacity deficits see waiting lists at Cork hospitals rise to 84,400

Cork hospitals among worst performers in the country for waiting lists, says IHCA
26th January 2023

‘Management class’ in health service is distracting from delivery of care to patients

Leading Professor at University of Limerick says health service has “taken eye off the ball” Professor Orla Muldoon says emphasis on performance indicators and lack of focus on expanding frontline hospital capacity and resources to care for patients is creating a ‘management class’ in the health service and detracting from treating patients Current corporate management structures a source of frustration for medical professionals who are “not trusted to manage the system” Meanwhile, almost 8 in every 10 Consultants screening positive for burnout as many medical and surgical specialists continue to move abroad to other health services 870,000 people were on some form of hospital waiting list at the end of November, including almost 97,000 children Prof Muldoon: “A vast amount of effort is put into counting Key Performance Indicators. KPIs in the private sector come with the resources to achieve them; when imposed on the public health service, there are no extra resources to deliver the care.” A leading Professor at the University of Limerick has said that the continued trend towards imposing a corporate model in our public health system is compounding the service’s inability to deliver care to patients.
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