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Three-year wait for skin appointment
[Posted: Mon 20/08/2007 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
Hundreds of patients in the south-east of the country have to wait up to three years for a dermatology outpatient appointment.
The south east area, which comprises Waterford, Kilkenny, Wexford and Carlow, currently only has one permanent consultant dermatologist in the public hospital service.
A spokeswoman for HSE South confirmed that patients can wait two to three years for an a hospital outpatient appointment in dermatology.
The HSE told irishhealth.com there are 1,239 adults with skin conditions awaiting an out-patient appointment at Waterford Regional Hospital alone.
There are also estimated to be hundreds more awaiting consultations at outlying outpatient clinics in the region.
The HSE spokeswoman said more serious cases, such as suspected melanoma and the more extreme forms of eczema and skin disorders, are seen within weeks and there would be a maximum two month waiting time for these cases.
In addition, she said, a weekly paediatric clinic is held at Waterford hospital and there were no significant waiting lists for children for dermatology care in the south-east.
However, Co.Wexford GP and Fine Gael Senator Dr Liam Twomey said that while dermatology cases requiring specialist referral were often not very serious or life-threatening, skin conditions can cause much discomfort and misery.
He said there were also serious conditions such as psoriasis which often need good specialist management.
"It is therefore unreasonable to expect adult patients to have to wait three years for an outpatients appointment in a public hospital."
Dr Twomey said because of the shortage of consultants and the long waits for treatment in the south east, many patients are forced to go private out of need rather than choice.
The HSE says it has applied for a second permanent consultant to be appointed to the south east area. It also says it is conducting a validation exercise on existing dermatology waiting lists.
Dr Twomey said the dermatology waiting list situation highlighted the need for a review of the consultant contract and the creation of additional consultant posts, and for more resourcing for the hospital service in areas of need.
He claimed that the spin being put out by the Department of Health was that waiting lists were now down to only a few months thanks to the NTPF.
Dr Twomey said the reality was that this only applied to certain surgical procedures, and the NTPF had to date only dealt with outpatient waiting lists to a very limited extent; this only represented a 'drop in the ocean' in view of the huge numbers waiting for appointments.
View irishhealth.com's Psoriasis Clinic at... http://www.irishhealth.com/clin/psor/index.html
And our Eczema Clinic at... http://www.irishhealth.com/clin/eczema/index.html
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