News

11th November 2022

Hospital crisis impacts on most vulnerable as child waiting lists surge

1 in 12 children are on some form of hospital waiting list due to growing Consultant vacancies and worsening capacity deficits, says IHCA  98,000 children on some form of NTPF waiting list; more than 1 in 4 (27,000) waiting longer than a year for treatment or assessment in public hospitals, due to capacity deficits and an extreme shortage of Consultants; Additional 8,000 children awaiting diagnostic scans at the three Dublin children’s hospitals not included in NTPF waiting lists;  21 additional children (+9%) added to waiting lists for scoliosis related surgeries since start of the year; Record 918 permanent Consultant posts not filled as needed at end of September, 23% of the total approved posts; an increase of 190 unfilled Consultant posts (+26%) in past two years; New Consultant contract must provide attractive working conditions to persuade Irish trained specialists to return home from abroad, fill the vacant Consultant posts and address unacceptable waiting lists. IHCA President Prof Robert Landers: “The monthly NTPF figures have recorded 98,000 children on waiting lists for hospital care, with more than one in four of these children waiting longer than a year to be treated or assessed in public hospitals due to capacity deficits and an extreme shortage of Consultants. This is resulting in thousands of children not getting the care they need in a timely way, and the real possibility that they will suffer health and developmental issues that could have been reversed or mitigated against if only they were seen in time.”   The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has today (Friday, 11 November 2022) expressed its extreme concern at the number of children now waiting for an appointment to be treated or assessed in public hospitals.
14th October 2022

Patients suffer ‘decade of despair’ as 10-year Consultant pay inequity sees surge in waiting lists and poorer health outcomes

Latest waiting list figures expose real impact of Government’s decision in 2012 to cut new Consultant pay Outpatient waiting lists have surged by 240,000 (62%) and Inpatient/day case waiting lists have increased by almost 30,000 (60%) over the past decade; More than a 100-fold increase in patients waiting longer than a year for hospital treatment; Number of permanent Consultant posts not filled as need has increased exponentially in past decade to more than 900, 22% of the total approved posts;  New Consultant contract must provide attractive working conditions for existing Consultants, doctors in training and specialists abroad required to fill vacant posts in our public hospitals. IHCA President Prof Robert Landers: “Irish patients have suffered a decade of despair because they are continually denied the timely hospital treatment that they need due to the increasing shortage of hospital Consultants. Since the salary inequity was imposed the number of permanent Consultant posts not filled as needed has increased exponentially to more than 1 in 5. Government policy is driving Consultants abroad, where they are welcomed with adequate staffing levels, funded services and better conditions.”
9th September 2022

Record waiting lists could spiral further before end of year as over 900 Consultant posts remain unfilled

No waiting list plan will ever work without addressing shortage of Consultants Waiting lists may increase by over 20,000 in 2022 instead of target reduction of 132,000 (18%) despite €350 million Waiting List Action Plan;  Record 910,000 people on some form of public hospital waiting list – surpassing previous high set in September 2021; up more than 68,000 (8%) since August 2020; 49,500 people removed from waiting lists without any treatment in first six months of 2022 through ‘validation’ of lists at a cost of €3m;  Number of unfilled Consultant posts rises to over 900 for first time as spend on medical agency staff increases by 25% in first half of 2022 compared with same period in 2021; Urgent action needed to address public hospital capacity deficits and Consultant vacancies. IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “Not one of the 45 actions listed in the 2022 Waiting List Action Plan addresses the fundamental issue of the overwhelming shortage of Consultants, public hospital beds, theatre and other frontline resources. The Government and health service management needs to engage with the IHCA and agree a realistic and properly funded plan with ambitious waiting lists targets. This can only be achieved by addressing the ongoing and deteriorating Consultant recruitment and retention crisis and ending the pay discrimination imposed on Consultants appointed since October 2012.”
12th August 2022

Years of underinvestment and Consultant staffing crisis leaving potentially thousands at risk of dying on waiting lists

Shocking figure of 7,600 deaths last year in Northern Ireland likely to be replicated for those on hospital waiting lists in Republic, warn Consultants 907,000 people on some form of NTPF waiting list, up almost 75,000 (9%) since July 2020; Waiting list crisis long predates pandemic, with 267,000 people added to outpatient waiting lists since 2014 – a 74% increase;  Significant 65-fold increase in the number of patients waiting longer than a year for inpatient or day case treatment over the past decade; Long waiting lists a direct result of Consultant recruitment and retention crisis and years of underinvestment in capacity. IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “Irish patients are not getting the hospital treatment that they need. Many thousands are being added to an ever-increasing waiting list for assessment and treatment, which is leading to poorer outcomes. This is unfortunate and unacceptable. The shocking figures revealed this week in Northern Ireland – which has half the number of patients waiting for an outpatient appointment compared with the Republic – shows that in many cases, patients died while awaiting treatment.”
10th June 2022

Years of underinvestment have led to unacceptable hospital waiting lists and long waiting times for patients

Waiting lists in May again top 900,000, due to public hospital capacity deficits; shortage of acute beds, other facilities and Consultant vacancies cause cancellations in essential scheduled care, IHCA warns
13th May 2022

Hospital waiting lists longer than ever at halfway point of 10-year Sláintecare plan, say Consultants

Limited progress made as public hospitals still decades away from achieving Sláintecare wait time targets due to growing capacity deficits 898,000 people on some form of NTPF waiting list; up more than 314,000 (54%) since publication of Sláintecare Report in May 2017;  Government’s landmark plan pledged no-one should wait more than 10 weeks for a public hospital outpatient appointment, yet 345,000 currently on outpatient waiting lists for over 6 months — with almost a 3-fold increase in patients waiting +18 months in past five years; Sláintecare target wait time of just 10 days set for a public hospital diagnostic test; latest figures reveal 143,000 waiting more than 3 months for vital CTs, MRIs or ultrasounds with over 57,000 waiting a year or longer;   Stalled Consultant contract talks must be reconvened with an agreed replacement Independent Chair to address Consultant recruitment crisis and bring waiting lists down.  IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “The first five years of the 10-year Sláintecare plan have shown that its waiting list targets are not achievable because public hospitals have a severe shortage of Consultants, theatres, acute beds, diagnostic and other facilities. The continuing deficits in hospital Consultants and public hospital capacity means it could be decades before the waiting time targets set out in Sláintecare can be achieved.”  
14th April 2022

Worsening waiting list crisis revealed as child waiting lists top 100,000 for first time

 1 in 12 children are now on some form of hospital waiting list across the country as Consultant vacancies increase, says IHCA Record 100,089 children now on some form of NTPF waiting list; more than 1 in 3 (34,300) waiting longer than a year for treatment or assessment by a Hospital Consultant; Additional 8,300 children awaiting diagnostic scans at three Dublin children’s hospitals not included in NTPF waiting lists;  Almost 1 in 5 Consultant Paediatric posts are vacant or filled on a temporary basis;  Stalled Consultant contract talks must be reconvened with replacement Independent Chair to address Consultant recruitment crisis and bring waiting lists down.  IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine: “For the first time, the monthly NTPF figures have recorded over 100,000 children on waiting lists for hospital care, with more than one in three of these children waiting longer than a year to be treated or assessed by a Consultant. This trend is worrying and is resulting in thousands of children not getting the care they need in a timely way, and the real possibility that they will suffer health and developmental issues that could have been reversed or mitigated against if only they were seen in time.”
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.”
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.  
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.” 
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