10th September 2021

Another sobering week for Irish healthcare with record waiting lists, resignations, and lack of meaningful solutions

907,617 people now on some form of public hospital waiting list in Ireland; Number waiting for an outpatient appointment has increased by over 173,000 (36%) since May 2017, when Sláintecare reforms were launched; Record number of people now waiting longer than 18 months for either an outpatient appointment (192,764) or hospital treatment (14,263); Strong, consistent, and committed leadership needed at top levels of Government and HSE to steer Ireland’s health system away from crisis point;  Consultant contract discussions critically important to filling the 1 in 5 vacant consultant posts and reducing waiting lists. IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “Those of us who work in healthcare have proven that even in the most unprecedented of challenges, we can deliver solutions. It is now beyond time for those in leadership positions to do likewise.”
2nd September 2021

West and North West hospital waiting lists some of ‘worst in country’ as over 152,000 people wait for care

Over 127,700 people on outpatient waiting list at hospitals across the Saolta University Health Care Group, an increase of 53,000 (72%) since 2015;  Number of people waiting for inpatient/day case care is over 17,200; with a further 7,700 awaiting endoscopies - a 4-fold increases since 2015; 3,600 additional patients waiting longer than a year for inpatient/day case treatment, a 2.5-fold increase from 2,266 to 5,915 in past six years;  Consultant recruitment crisis is root cause of delays in providing care, with 1 in 5 permanent consultant posts vacant or unfilled as needed in the region. IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “Covid-19 and the cyberattack have unmasked deep fundamental deficiencies in our health system which we always knew were there, but which have now been exposed in a way previously unseen. Meeting the healthcare needs of the 152,000 people in the West and North-West regions currently waiting to be assessed or treated by a consultant will only be possible by urgently filling vacant permanent hospital consultant posts.” 
24th August 2021

Health Budget 2022 is a critical moment for patients accessing mental health services

Irish Hospital Consultants Association launches Mental Health Pre-Budget 2022 Submission;  Consultants say Covid-19 pandemic has exposed decades-long deficits in the health service which are impacting on adult and children’s mental health services across the country;  Government commits only 5.4% of health budget to mental health - half the level of European neighbours; Ireland has third lowest number of inpatient psychiatric care beds in EU;  An immediate increase of at least 300 acute adult psychiatric inpatient beds is required to meet recommended levels; More than 1 in 5 approved Consultant Psychiatry posts currently vacant or filled on a temporary basis and must be filled urgently.  Professor Anne Doherty, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist and Chair of the IHCA Psychiatry Committee: “The pandemic has completely exposed the cracks across our public hospital system, including in our mental health services. The combination of gaping mental health capacity deficits with significantly increased demand for treatment of mental illnesses impacted by Covid-19 is stretching our acute services to breaking point.  It has focused our attention on the urgent need to dedicate specific funding and resources to mental health, anticipating the wider impact of the pandemic on our population.”
20th August 2021

Waiting lists top 900,000 for first time, as Consultants warn of worsening crisis

Record 908,519 people now on some form of NTPF waiting list;  652,498 people are awaiting an outpatient appointment with a consultant, up more than 51,000 (+8.5%) on the same time last year;  More than 268,500 are waiting longer than a year for a public hospital outpatient appointment for assessment  - up 15% since July 2020 and a 7-fold increase over the past seven years;  20,513 patients are waiting over a year for hospital care, a massive 88-fold increase in such long waiters since 2012; Government must work with consultant representatives to fill the 1 in 5 permanent consultant posts that are vacant to reduce waiting lists; Consultant contract discussions critically important to fill vacant consultant posts and enable public hospitals to provide high-quality care to patients without unacceptable delays IHCA Vice President Prof Rob Landers: “For the first time ever, and as unfortunately predicted, more than 900,000 people are now on some form of a public hospital waiting list to be treated or assessed by a consultant. Every single one of these represents a person and a family seeking healthcare, often while experiencing pain, suffering and the psychological distress at not knowing when they will be able to receive treatment. As Hospital Consultants, we want to help alleviate this distress and provide the care they need. But in order to do this effectively,  the consultant recruitment and retention crisis must be addressed effectively to fill the one in five permanent consultant posts that are currently vacant or filled on a temporary basis.”
19th August 2021

Pandemic not to blame for 100-fold increase in patients waiting over 12 months for hospital care

As many as 900,000 people could be on some form of acute public hospital waiting list when latest data is published;   Number of people waiting for inpatient or day case treatment has grown by more than 31,000 in the past decade – an increase of 69%;  100-fold increase in those waiting on same list for longer than 12 months since May 2012 (from 199 people to 20,820 in May 2021); In addition, due to insufficient consultant staffing and vacancies, a further 286,000 people are waiting on public hospital outpatient lists to be assessed by a consultant compared with 2014, an increase of 84%; Covid-19 & HSE cyberattack cannot mask long-standing capacity and consultant deficits in the Irish healthcare system; Consultants call for expedited planning from Government to urgently address waiting lists, deficits, and staffing;  Consultant contract discussions critically important to fill vacant consultant posts and enable public hospitals to provide high-quality care to patients without unacceptable delays.  IHCA Vice President, Professor Rob Landers: “Over the last decade, the situation has progressively deteriorated to a point where we are now in an absolute crisis. The Government and health service must stop hiding behind the pandemic and cyberattack as the main reasons for our growing waiting lists. We need multi-annual budgeting from the Department of Health and to bring together a plan to sort this problem out once and for all.”
10th August 2021

IHCA statement in response to the HIQA Healthcare Overview Report 2020

Commenting on the overview of HIQA’s monitoring of healthcare services in 2020, Prof Rob Landers, Vice President, Irish Hospital Consultants Association, said:
22nd July 2021

Waiting lists soar in Cork hospitals as staffing crisis continues to hit patients in the region

131,000 people waiting to see a Consultant in the South/South-West Hospital Group in May - an increase of 37% or 35,000 additional people in six years; 69,000 people are on outpatient waiting lists in Cork hospitals, a fifth more (+11,000) than in 2015; Inpatient and day-case numbers waiting have increased by 17% in SSWHG and by 42% in Cork Hospitals since 2015;  30-fold increase in number of patients waiting longer than a year for treatment in past 9 years;  Severe shortage of hospital consultants in Cork and SSWHG is main contributor to the unacceptable delays and growing waiting lists; around 1 in 5 permanent consultant posts in the SSWHG region are unfilled; Recruitment crisis exacerbated by current proposals for a new consultant contract. IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “The severe shortage of hospital consultants in our public health service in Cork and the southern region is the main contributor to the unacceptable delays in providing care to patients. These growing waiting lists are not simply a result of Covid-19 but demonstrate the impact of years of consultant shortages and underinvestment in capacity across public hospitals in the region.”   
11th June 2021

Over 100,000 Irish children wait for hospital treatment – IHCA urges action

Impact of consultant shortages a direct cause of growth in children’s waiting lists as over 100,000 wait for essential care and almost 40,000 on lists longer than a year.   “An issue existing prior to and only made worse by the pandemic, our health system is failing the most vulnerable in Irish society due to the state’s inability to address the chronic consultant recruitment and retention crisis” – Prof Alan Irvine, President, IHCA.  95,321 children on some form of NTPF waiting list to be treated or seen by a consultant; 1 in 9 of all those waiting for care; Over 100,000 children waiting for hospital treatment as additional 8,000 awaiting diagnostic scans not included in NTPF waiting lists; 82,000 children on hospital outpatient waiting lists with over 37,000 (45%) waiting longer than a year. Further 7,700 children on Inpatient/Day Case waiting list, with more than 1 in 3 waiting long than a year for hospital treatment. New approach needed to address record waiting lists as 1 in 5 permanent consultant posts remain vacant and Government continues to provide no meaningful solution.   
25th May 2021

Oncologist warns Covid disruption to diagnosis and treatment could increase cancer mortality for “next decade”

Consultant medical oncologist Professor Seamus O’Reilly says pandemic has “enormous implications” for “time-dependent” cancer care; Health service will struggle to cope with backlog of patients without hiring additional oncologists and other medical specialists; 1 in 5 Hospital Consultant posts are not filled as needed; while an additional 73 consultant oncologists will be needed over the next 7 years to meet demand on services;  Prof O’Reilly says cancer diagnoses were increasing at a rate of 5% a year even before the pandemic; Irish Hospital Consultants Association President: “We simply must appoint additional consultants. Government action now will prevent the current pandemic healthcare crisis drawing out for the rest of the decade.”
14th May 2021

Dedicated Government unit fails to get a grip on mounting hospital lists as 883,727 people now waiting for care

Record 883,727 people now on some form of NTPF waiting list; Department of Health unit established to improve access to care and reduce wait times fails to stem escalating hospital waiting list crisis over the last three and a half years;  21,420 patients now waiting longer than one year for essential hospital treatment;  Crisis in unscheduled care returns with highest number of patients treated on trolleys since start of pandemic, causing further cancellation of scheduled care; Government must work with consultant representatives to fill the one in five permanent consultant posts that are vacant to bring waiting lists down. IHCA President Professor Alan Irvine: “By any standards this is a very disappointing performance. The Department of Health’s unit should be an imaginative solution-focussed hub and incubator for new ideas. This requires shared leadership and collaborative engagement with hospital consultants who provide the medical and surgical care and their representatives to ensure an improved public hospital service for the Irish people.”

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