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.
“There are currently over 700 permanent hospital consultant posts vacant or not filled as needed. Talks on a new consultant contract have stalled with no engagement since last December. There has been no effort in the interim by the State to agree an independent chair with the representative organisations to oversee the process. Such realities undermine the credibility of this plan as a sustainable solution to the problem of growing waiting lists.
“Our health system never appears short on aspiration but once again this plan, like many before it, skirts around the hard reality that without the required number of frontline consultants and other resources to see, assess and treat patients, waiting times will continue to be at unacceptable levels.”
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