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 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:
25th February 2022

IHCA Statement on HSE Waiting List Action Plan

Commenting on today’s publication of the HSE Waiting List Action Plan, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association said:   “We were not consulted in the formulation of this plan so are only seeing it today for the first time. It comes at a time when there is a real credibility issue in our health system.    “That official health policy now provides for patient wait times of up to a year for a procedure and 18 months for initial assessment reflects the scale of the crisis we are now in. Almost 900,000 people are currently on a waiting list with 245,000 of these people waiting over a year for either a procedure or to see a hospital consultant. They are waiting for the primary reasons that we have a massive shortage of the hospital consultants, beds, and theatre facilities required to assess and treat patients in a timely manner.    “There is no detail in the plan on sustainable additional capacity to meet these latest targets. The 45 actions listed in the plan don’t address the fundamental issue of the overwhelming shortage of consultants, acute hospital beds, theatre and other frontline resources. Indications that as much as 25% of care will be outsourced to the private system is questionable given it is unclear that such capacity even exists at this point.  
23rd February 2022

Patients in West and North-West facing delays as hospitals miss out on new beds and struggle with shortage of consultants

Hospitals in Saolta University Health Care Group have some of worst waiting lists in the country as over 143,000 people wait for care;  4,500 additional patients are now waiting longer than a year for inpatient/day case treatment across the Group compared with 2015; Only 36 of the 806 additional acute beds opened nationwide over the past two years were in Saolta Group hospitals – no new acute beds were opened at Galway University Hospitals;  Consultant recruitment crisis and capacity deficits are root cause of delays in providing care, with 1 in 4 permanent Consultant posts vacant or not filled as needed. IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “Government needs to progress practical plans to expand hospital capacity and Consultant staffing in the West and North-West, without delay. Health service management must make good on promises to provide the extra Consultants, extra beds and extra hospital facilities so badly needed or we will be grappling with waiting lists in the region for the next decade.” 
11th February 2022

“A patient’s access to care should not depend on where they live”, warns IHCA

Wide disparities found across hospital waiting lists in “postcode lottery”, as patients in Waterford, Limerick, Galway and parts of Cork and Dublin face longest waiting times Hospitals in Cork South-Central, Limerick City and Dublin Central have highest outpatient waiting lists - up to four times the national average;   Analysis comes as over 893,000 people are on some form of NTPF waiting list, including almost 98,000 children - an overall increase of 30,000 in the past year;  Urgent action needed to address public hospital capacity deficits and Consultant vacancies. IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “These shocking figures should be a wake-up call to Government to urgently address the twin deficits of a shortage of Consultants and a lack of sufficient public hospital capacity to resolve the record waiting lists we continue to experience. A patient’s access to care should not depend on where they live. The Government needs to address this ‘postcode lottery’ and realise that any waiting list plan which does not simultaneously address the Consultant recruitment and retention crisis is destined to fail. Our patients deserve better.” 
31st January 2022

Gastroenterologist warns of “rapid increase” in Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Ireland as patient waiting lists soar

Limited resourcing, Consultant recruitment challenges in regional hospitals and Covid care has led to long waits for appointments essential to the early detection of IBD and cancer Approximately 40,000 people in Ireland already live with IBD, but delays to treatment are worsening their long-term outcomes and quality of life Dr Brian Egan, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Mayo University Hospital, also notes a rise in acute liver disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome over the course of the pandemic Almost 17,000 patients are currently on a waiting list to see a Gastroenterologist - an increase of 7,000 (71%) since 2015; but around 1 in 5 permanent Consultant posts remain unfilled as young medical talent continues to leave the Irish health service Dr Brian Egan: “Trying to attract doctors to our regional hospitals with more onerous on-call duties, less resources, and limited access to specialty care is really difficult.” A Consultant Gastroenterologist and Acute Medical Physician at Mayo University Hospital has warned that regional hospitals in Ireland are finding it increasingly difficult to attract the necessary number of Consultants and younger doctors. 
27th January 2022

“Unacceptable reality of a service where resources are stretched too far” - says Consultant body

Statement by the Irish Hospital Consultants Association on recent findings in relation to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and Consultant shortages
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