‘Real concerns behind the numbers’ on hospital waiting lists in Cork

‘Real concerns behind the numbers’ on hospital waiting lists in Cork

According to figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), almost 64,000 people were waiting for an outpatient appointment at hospitals in Cork at the end of December, while more than 5,700 people were waiting for an inpatient or day-case procedure.

A PATIENT advocate has said the current waiting lists for outpatient appointments and inpatient procedures at hospitals is “as much a public emergency as the emergency we are currently in”.

According to figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), almost 64,000 people were waiting for an outpatient appointment at hospitals in Cork at the end of December, while more than 5,700 people were waiting for an inpatient or day-case procedure.

Nationally, 606,230 people were waiting for outpatient appointments in December, while 72,475 were waiting for an inpatient or day-case procedure.

The figures come at a time when many hospitals in Cork have deferred, suspended or reduced non-urgent activities in response to the recent rise in Covid-19 cases. Some procedures and outpatient clinics are continuing.

Stephen McMahon of the Irish Patients Association (IPA) told The Echo, that people have contacted the organisation and voiced fears that they are going to be “forgotten about”.

“The concerns I have about it and the worries that I hear from people... is that their fear is that they are going to be forgotten and they are going to be the collateral damage of Covid-19.”

Mr McMahon said such patients [who could become collateral damage] may include a patient waiting for a hip replacement who has a fall or somebody who has been waiting to see a consultant and their condition deteriorates before they get to see a consultant.

“These are the real concerns behind the numbers,” he said.

Mr McMahon pointed out that previous “safety valves” available to patients waiting long periods to be seen, such as the European Cross-Border Health Directive, where they could have treatment in another country, were no longer as readily accessible.

He said he believes as the levels of restrictions introduced to tackle Covid-19 cases decrease, non-Covid activity should increase, and measures should be put in place now to address the waiting list issue, such as adopting a national approach to dealing with non-Covid care.

“This is as much a public emergency as the emergency we are in because patients’ lives are at risk the longer they are waiting to get access to the treatment,” he said.

The figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund show that on December 23, there were 63,875 people waiting for an outpatient appointment at hospitals across Cork. There were 29,812 waiting to be seen at Cork University Hospital, 22,156 at the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital, and 6,871 waiting to be seen at the Mercy University Hospital.

There were 2,460 people waiting for an appointment at Mallow General Hospital, 1,533 waiting to be seen at Bantry General Hospital, and 1,043 waiting for an appointment at the Cork University Maternity Hospital.

Some 16,220 of these patients were waiting for longer than 18 months for an appointment.

A spokesperson for the South/South West Hospital Group said it has undertaken “substantial work to address waiting lists and manage the effect of Covid-19 on overall activity and we continue to work with all our hospitals to improve patient access to services”.

They added: “However, due to the current surge in Covid-19 rates in the community and the additional pressure on acute services, all elective work has been suspended across the region, with the exception of emergency surgery and time-critical elective cancer surgeries.

“This situation is being monitored and reviewed on a weekly basis and the recommencement of non-urgent procedures will be dependent on Covid-19 transmission rates, acute capacity, and national guidance.”

More in this section

Sponsored Content