Patients waiting months for treatment ‘deserve better than this postcode lottery’

The latest National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) figures show Cork South-Central has the highest number of outpatients awaiting treatment in the country.
Patients waiting months for treatment ‘deserve better than this postcode lottery’

The latest National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) figures show Cork South-Central has the highest number of outpatients awaiting treatment in the country.

THE equivalent of 58% of the population of Cork South-Central is currently on outpatient waiting lists in the four main local hospitals, according to data from the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA).

A total of 70,862 individuals are on waiting lists in hospitals in that constituency alone and more than 8,000 of those are children.

The latest National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) figures show Cork South-Central has the highest number of outpatients awaiting treatment in the country.

The figures include those waiting to be seen at Cork University Hospital, Cork University Maternity Hospital, the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital, and the Mercy University Hospital (MUH).

IHCA president Professor Alan Irvine said the analysis paints “a very stark picture for many people who now face longer waits just because of their address”.

“The fact that the number of people waiting to be assessed by a hospital consultant at the four hospitals in Cork South-Central is equivalent to more than half the local population is shocking; especially when compared to the overall figure of 13% of the national population who are on an outpatient waiting list.

“A patient’s access to care should not depend on where they live,” he said.

Prof Irvine added: “The Government needs to address this ‘postcode lottery’ and realise that any waiting list plan which does not simultaneously address the consultant recruitment and retention crisis is destined to fail. All our patients deserve better.”

The IHCA said the analysis does not take into account the fact that many larger hospitals provide specialty services to an even wider population than those directly in the area, for example in such treatment areas as cancer, cardiology, gynaecology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, neurology, or surgery.

Nationally, the IHCA has said that around one in eight people are currently on a hospital outpatient waiting list.

Cork figures

Of the 32,355 adults waiting to be seen by a consultant at CUH, 9,463 people are waiting over 18 months. A further 5,627 children are awaiting outpatient treatment at CUH — 1,136 of whom are waiting over 18 months.

SIVUH has a total of 20,852 adults awaiting outpatient treatment, with 8,088 waiting six months, 3,694 waiting six to 12 months, 2,157 waiting 12-18 months, and 6,913 waiting over 18 months.

There are also 1,979 children on waiting lists at the hospital, with 1,167 waiting six months, 386 waiting six to 12 months, 112 waiting 12-18 months, with 314 waiting over 18 months.

At MUH, 7,220 people are waiting for outpatient treatment, with 2,536 waiting 18 months or more. There are a further 472 children awaiting treatment at the Mercy.

Meanwhile, at CUMH, 2,314 adults and 43 children are waiting to be seen.

Fine Gael health spokesperson for Health, Cork North Central TD Colm Burke, said the figures outline the need for a new elective hospital in Cork and said at this stage, even a day facility would be welcomed.

“Anything to take the pressure off the other hospitals has to be welcomed,” he said.

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