More consultants planned to cut waiting lists
New hospital consultant posts are to be created next year in a bid to reduce huge waiting lists for outpatient care in dermatology, rheumatology and neurology, the HSE has announced.
Eleven additional consultant dermatologist posts and seven new rheumatologist posts are to be filled next year.
In addition, around three new neurologist posts are to be created specialising in epilepsy treatment, and a number of new specialist epilepsy nurses will be appointed.
Asked about funding for these posts, the HSE said today the jobs would be exempt from the current recruitment embargo, and provision was expected to be made for the posts in the 2011 service plan, to be published shortly.
The HSE today announced details of new clinical programmes in the areas of epilepsy, dermatology and rheumatology. These will concentrate on improving access to care, keeping people out of hospital by treating them in the community where possible, and providing more efficient and accessible hospital care when it is needed.
The programmes will have a major emphasis on cutting current outpatient waiting lists, and the aim is that in future, patients requiring care in these specialties will no longer have to wait more than three months for an outpatient appointment.
The new improved care programmes are being rolled out across a wide range of specialties in the next few years.
Clinical lead of the rheumatology programme Prof Oliver Fitzgerald, said at present some patients can be waiting up to two years for an outpatient appointment in rheumatology, with 3,000 patients currently on outpatient lists.
In addition to the new consultants, rheumatology services will be boosted by the appointment of around 24 specialist musculoskeletal physiotherapists to develop community-based services.
Dr Colin Doherty, head of the epilepsy programme, said it was hoped the planned improvements would save up to 50 lives per year and make 2,000 additional patients seizure-free.
Dr Louse Barnes, lead of the dermatology programme said currently, 11,000 patients are waiting over six months for an outpatient appointment for skin problems, and some patients could be waiting up to 18 months.
She said this would be of concern in terms of as yet undetected skin cancers.
Dr Barnes said there were increased numbers of skin cancers. Consultants would hope that GPs would say they had a concern about melanoma in their referral letters, and letters were triaged to prioritise the urgent cases, but there was a danger that some people with skin cancer could be left waiting too long.
She said dermatologists were planning to devise a national referral form for skin cancer to ensure all the relevant information was included with the GP's referral.
The HSE also announced details of a new programme aimed at giving more patients intravenous antibiotic therapy on an outpatient, community and homecare basis.
The HSE stressed that people were less likely to contract a hopsital acquired infection such as MRSA when treated at home.
Read more on the new plans here
[Posted: Mon 20/12/2010]