HOSPITALS within the South/South West Hospital Group have started resuming services that had been paused due to the most recent surge of Covid-19 rates, and say hospitals have put plans in place to help address backlogs across acute services.
It comes as latest figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) show that at the end of March there were 68,491 people in Cork awaiting outpatient appointments with 19,130 people waiting more than 18 months for an appointment.
The vast majority of patients awaiting outpatient appointments were waiting to be seen at Cork University Hospital (CUH) at 32,802 and the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital (SIVUH) at 22,520.
A further 7,072 people were awaiting appointments at the Mercy University Hospital (MUH), 2,698 at Mallow General Hospital, 1,767 at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) and 1,632 at Bantry General Hospital.
The number of people waiting for an appointment at the end of March was an increase on the previous month when 67,228 people were waiting to be seen.
Meanwhile, there was a decrease in the number of people waiting for inpatient/day case procedures from February to last month.
6,546 people were waiting for an inpatient/day case procedure at hospitals in Cork at the end of March down from 6,831 the previous month.
The SIVUH had the highest number of people waiting for inpatient/day case procedure (2,826) followed by CUH (1,371), MUH (1,221), CUMH (648), Bantry General Hospital (284), and Mallow General Hospital (196).
Some 689 of the people waiting for an inpatient/day case procedure at the end of last month had been waiting more than 18 months.
Figures for February 2020, the last full month before Covid-19 began to impact on the health service show that at that time 58,440 people were waiting for outpatient appointments and 4,836 people were waiting for a date for an inpatient procedure at hospitals in Cork.
A spokesperson for the South/South Hospital Group (S/SWHG), which oversees ten hospitals including the six Cork hospitals included in the figures, said that it had undertaken “substantial work” to address waiting lists.
“The South/South West Hospital Group (S/SWHG), in collaboration with its ten hospitals, has undertaken substantial work to address waiting lists and manage the effect of Covid-19 on overall activity as we continue to work with all our hospitals to improve patient access to services.
“The group has generated additional capacity through a variety of means such as insourcing (out of hours capacity),use of the private hospital arrangement and National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) funding and hospitals are utilising new ways of working such as ‘Telehealth’ for outpatient appointments where appropriate.
“Following the steady reduction in Covid-19 rates in the community, hospital services that were paused due to the most recent surge in Covid-19 cases have started to resume and hospitals have plans in place to assist with reducing waiting lists and backlogs across acute services.”