Government misses end of year targets on waiting lists by thousands
- 43,000 more people on outpatient waiting list than end of year target;
- 6,500 more patients on inpatient/day case waiting list than Government’s own target for 2019;
- 137,850 people added to the outpatient waiting list since the Government first took office in May 2016, which is a 33% increase;
- Despite spending €5m NTPF funding for 5,000 gastrointestinal scopes, the number of patients waiting for endoscopies has increased by almost 3,400 instead of decreasing by 2,300 target.
Dr Donal O’Hanlon, IHCA President said: “The Government has failed to meet any of its targets on waiting lists by the end of 2019, despite €75 million NTPF spending. The consultant recruitment and retention crisis, with over 500 permanent consultant posts unfilled, is a key factor in the long wait times patients face. The discrimination against new consultants must be ended to fill the large number of permanent vacant consultant posts and expand hospital consultant staffing which is the lowest in the EU adjusted for population.”
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has said the Government has missed all its major 2019 targets to reduce waiting times for hospital operations and procedures and outpatient appointments.
Commenting on today’s National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTFP) data, the IHCA said, for example:
- The outpatient waiting list stood at 553,434 at the end of December, which is 43,434 above the Government’s target.
- The number of patients on the inpatient/day case waiting list is 6,563 (11%) above the end of year target.
- There are 4,595 (15%) more patients waiting over 3 months for inpatient/day case treatment than the Government target for the end of 2019.
- The number of patients waiting longer than 9 months is 3,552 (35%) over the Government’s target.
Dr Donal O’Hanlon, IHCA President said: “The Government has failed to meet any of its targets on waiting lists by the end of 2019, despite €75 million NTPF spending.
“The consultant recruitment and retention crisis, with over 500 permanent consultant posts now unfilled, is a key factor in the long wait times patients face. The discrimination against new consultants must be ended to fill the large number of permanent vacant consultant posts and expand hospital consultant staffing which is the lowest in the EU adjusted for population.”
Despite Government allocating €5 million to the NTPF in 2019 to arrange 5,000 gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopies, the number waiting actually increased by 3,397 over the year to 22,244 instead of reducing by the 2,300 target. Such delays could prevent the timely diagnosis of ulcers, gastritis or cancer.
The Association is gravely concerned that waiting list figures will significantly increase over the coming months due to the unprecedented overcrowding in our public hospitals and because elective surgery, which is essential and often urgent, is been cancelled due to the ED trolley crisis.
According to IHCA President Dr Donal O’Hanlon:
“The latest waiting list figures confirm that the health service has too few Hospital Consultants and insufficient capacity to cope with current demand. Since the current Government took office in May 2016, it has presided over an increase of 137,850 people to the outpatient waiting list, which is a 33% increase.
“This increase has occurred at a time when there are more than 500 permanent consultant posts that cannot be filled because of the Government’s discriminatory policy, which is driving the highly trained specialists that public hospitals need to practise abroad or in the private sector. The Government must end the discrimination to recruit and retain specialists and fill the large number of permanent consultant posts that are unfilled.
“The decision to increase the National Treatment Purchase Fund in 2020 to €100 million is questionable based on the 2019 experience. It is a short-term measure at best which is failing to address the long-term hospital access problems facing public hospital patients. This money should be used to properly resource public hospitals. Our public hospitals are in crisis, and the Government is ignoring the practical solutions proposed by hospital consultants who are struggling to provide timely care to patients.”
Ref: NTPF Waiting List Data - December 2019, https://www.ntpf.ie/home/nwld.htm
Ref: Department of Health ‘Scheduled Care Access Plan 2019’, https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/99cefc-scheduled-care-access-plan-2019/