THE HSE appears to be morally bankrupt in its attempt to validate patients off of hospital waiting lists, a Cork GP has said.
Dr Nick Flynn said the system, which sees patients receive letters asking them if they still need their appointment, sets out to disadvantage the more vulnerable patients in need.
He was speaking after one of his own patients was confused in relation to the process.
“A patient of mine with significant mental health needs received a letter dated November 28, asking her if she still wanted her appointment at Cork University Hospital,” said Dr Flynn.
“However, the fact that the prepaid envelope attached was addressed to Dublin caused great confusion and she was unsure what to do about it.
“A few weeks later she made an appointment with me to discuss what to do, but this was after the December 17 deadline for a response so she didn’t send it back in time,” he added.
“This process is confusing for patients and also leads to GPs being unable to care for sick people because they are trying to ensure their patients don’t get kicked off waiting lists for services they need.
“This validation practise clearly sets out to disadvantage the more vulnerable patients. When you see patients who have family support and help getting validated off waiting lists because it’s such a difficult system, you wonder how those who are homeless or extremely vulnerable will be able to get their appointments at all.”
Dr Flynn added that many GPs have no issue with validation processes, but would like to see patients being given more time to respond.
Figures obtained by Fianna Fáil in August of this year showed that more than 10,000 patients were removed from hospital waiting lists in the South/South West region in 2018, as part of the validation practice.
Dr Flynn said that while GPs can step in and request their patient be returned to their original place in the waiting list, this does not always happen.
“The HSE is morally bankrupt when it comes to this type of practice.
“When you’re getting letters signed by a faceless office called the Outpatient Waiting List Validation Office, Cork University Hospital, it shows very little compassion and care for patients,” he added.