Over 148,000 people waiting for hospital care in South/South-West region at end of February

Over 148,000 people waiting for inpatient or day-case treatment, outpatient appointments or GI while almost 133,000 people are waiting to be assessed by a hospital consultant.
Over 148,000 people waiting for hospital care in South/South-West region at end of February

There were over 148,000 people waiting for inpatient or day-case treatment, outpatient appointments or GI (Gastrointestinal) scopes in the South/South West Hospital Group (SSWHG).

Almost 133,000 people are waiting to be assessed by a hospital consultant in the South-South West region, with 57% (76,000) of these on outpatient waiting lists in Cork hospitals.

This equates to one in seven of the entire population of Cork County and a 38% increase (+21,000) since 2015.

There were over 148,000 people waiting for inpatient or day-case treatment, outpatient appointments or GI (Gastrointestinal) scopes in the South/South West Hospital Group (SSWHG) at the end of February.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has warned that failure to ensure competitiveness in recruiting and retaining consultants and to appoint a replacement Independent Chair for stalled contract talks is hampering recruitment efforts in the region and restricting patients from accessing essential timely, high-quality medical and surgical care.

The Government’s Waiting List Action Plan released in February pledged that by the end of 2022 almost all patients (98%) will receive their inpatient/day case procedure within 12 months of being placed on the waiting list, and their first outpatient appointment within 18 months.

However, hospitals in the South of the country have 38,400 people currently waiting in excess of the Waiting List targets set for the end of 2022.

The specialties of Ophthalmology, Orthopaedics, ENT, Pain Relief, Dermatology and Neurosurgery have some of the largest number of people waiting 18 months or longer for assessment by a consultant.

At Cork University Hospital (CUH), there are 389 inpatient/day case patients waiting 12 months or more and 10,526 outpatients are waiting over 18 months, a total of 10,915 patients currently on waiting lists.

At Mercy University (MUH), there are 347 inpatient/day case patients waiting 12 months or more and 2,578 outpatients are waiting over 18 months.

The South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital has 315 inpatient/day case patients waiting 12 months or more and 7,093 outpatients are waiting over 18 months.

Cork University Maternity Hospital has 107 inpatient/day case patients waiting 12 months or more and 17 outpatients are waiting over 18 months, while Mallow General Hospital has 30 inpatient/day case patients waiting 12 months or more and 283 outpatients are waiting over 18 months, and Bantry General Hospital has six inpatient/day case patients waiting 12 months or more and 215 outpatients are waiting over 18 months.

While patients in the region continue to face long wait times, the IHCA has said that the failure to ensure competitiveness in recruiting and retaining consultants and to reconvene critical contract talks with Consultants risks worsening the recruitment and retention crisis in public hospitals.

IHCA President Professor, Alan Irvine, said: “The severe shortage of hospital Consultants in our public health service in Cork and the southern region is the main contributor to the unacceptable delays in providing care to patients.

“We have a chronic recruitment and retention crisis with 1 in 5 permanent hospital Consultant posts not filled as need - that’s 838 Consultant posts nationally either vacant or filled on a temporary or agency basis.

“This has led to a situation where we have almost 900,000 people on hospital waiting lists – over 148,000 of these people in the South/South-West.

The revelation by Secretary-General Robert Watt last week that the Department may not appoint a new Independent Chair for hospital Consultant contract talks is another significant blow to the process and to tackling the growing vacancy rates and hospital waiting lists.

Responding to serious concerns raised in the Oireachtas by Cork North-Central TD, Deputy Colm Burke, at last week’s Joint Committee on Health, Secretary-General of the Department of Health, Robert Watt, said that the Department may now not appoint a new Chair - a move which consultants believe is a significant blow to the process and to tackling the growing vacancy rates and hospital waiting lists.

“Without open, genuine discussions and agreement with hospital Consultant representatives on the requirements for an attractive consultants’ contract to be offered in future, we will not be able to stem the exodus of highly trained medical and surgical specialists abroad, leaving public hospital patients without access to the care they need and deserve,” Mr Irvine said.

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