Docs say long waiting lists unacceptable
Waiting times for public patients in our health service are unacceptable, according to the doctors' union, the IMO.
IMO Consultant Chairman Dr Trevor Duffy said this failure was due to poor health policy, badly-organised sdefrvices and inadequate manpower levels.
Commenting on latest figures for the numbers on treatment and outpatient waiting lists, Dr Duffy sid the IMO acknowledged that Health Minister James Reilly's Special Delivery Unit (SDU) was doing a good job in bringing focus on numbers of patients rather than on hospital budgets.
"However, previous and current Governments have comtinued to ignore the main issue, which is a capacity gap," he said.
In orthopaedic surgery, which has the longest waiting times, Ireland has one consultant surgeon for every 54,000 people, while elsewhere in Europe the ratio is one per 15,000, Dr Duffy pointed out.
Latest figures show that in one hospital alone, Waterford Regional, 5,847 patients are waiting more than a year for an orthopaedic outpatient appointment, including 570 who have been waiting more than four years.
Nationally, the figures show that nearly 46,000 patients have been waiting over a year to see a consultant in outpatients, while 806 have been waiting longer than four years.
The outpatient list is a 'waiting list to get on another waiting list' for subsequent inpatient treatment. Currently, there are 59,637 people on treatment waiting lists compared to 56,020 last July, when the SDU was set up.
Dr Duffy said while the HSE Clinmical Programmes were clearly making efforts to run services efficiently, the capacity gap needs to be addressed.
He said for the SDU to succeed, hospital capacity must reflect demand and adequate financial and manpower resources must be provided to cope with the throughput of patients.
Tallaght Hospital consultant surgeon Mr Sean Tierney, a former IMO President, said since 2007, health service staff had been cut by 6,654 but activity levels has been sustained and even increased in some areas in spite of this, indicating that more weas being sone with less.
However, he said, access to hospital care was becoming increasingly more difficult for public patients.
Mr Tierney said no further hospital beds should be closed unless alternative services are put in place, and the recruitment of essential frontline staff must be prioritised.
[Posted: Fri 08/06/2012]