HOSPITAL consultants have urged voters in Cork to stand up for the rights of patients in the region ahead of the upcoming by-election in Cork North Central.
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has expanded its #CARECANTWAIT campaign through a targeted advertising campaign ahead of the vote on November 29.
The campaign focuses on the long wait times for patients seeking to access hospital care, as around 64,000 people wait for care at Cork hospitals.
“Our hospital consultants are now asking the Cork public and voters to stand up for the rights of the patients among their families, friends and communities across the county,” said IHCA president Dr Donal O’Hanlon.
“We must all collectively demand that politicians work to immediately address the problems in our hospital services - filling the existing 500 consultant vacancies and opening more beds across our public hospitals.
“The IHCA is escalating the #CARECANTWAIT campaign driven by the urgent need to improve services and access to hospital care for our patients.
“The IHCA is not a political organisation and we do not support any politician or party over another, but as consultants on the front line of hospital care we are compelled to advocate for our patients and to support their right to timely access to care and improved hospital services.”
Dr O’Hanlon said there is a ‘reluctance and complacency amongst Government and policymakers to address the root causes of the problems in our public hospital services - the 500 unfilled consultant posts and the shortages of beds’.
The #CARECANTWAIT campaign is also targeting the other three by elections, taking place in Wexford, Dublin Mid West and Dublin Fingal.
Figures published last week by the National Treatment Purchase Fund, found that there were 567,221 people across Ireland waiting for an outpatient appointment with a hospital consultant at the end October.
When other categories of patients on other hospital waiting lists, such as those on inpatient or planned procedure lists, are also added there is now a total of one million people nationally waiting for public hospital care. There are now 63,970 patients waiting for care at one of Cork’s hospitals.
According to the IHCA, the long wait times experienced by patients is a result of the ongoing consultant recruitment crisis and a shortage of hospital beds. The group said that more than 500 permanent consultant posts are now unfilled and the shortage of consultants is increasing the wait times of patients across Ireland.