'All other appointments delayed': Concern as patients told CUH eye care for urgent cases only

"Due to the large number of patients awaiting appointments, it may still be some considerable time before we are able to offer you an appointment date.”
'All other appointments delayed': Concern as patients told CUH eye care for urgent cases only

Concerns have been raised about the impact this will have on adults and children awaiting eye services at the hospital. File image. 

Eye care services at Cork University Hospital are currently providing care for urgent or emergency cases only due to limited capacity, leaving patients on the waiting list without an appointment date.

A letter seen by The Echo sent by the hospital to a patient said:“Due to limited capacity, the ophthalmology service at Cork University Hospital is currently providing urgent eye care services only. Unfortunately, all other appointments are delayed.

“While you will continue to remain on our waiting list, additional capacity is being put in place.

“However, due to the large number of patients awaiting appointments, it may still be some considerable time before we are able to offer you an appointment date,” the hospital added.

The letter went on to advise that “some eye problems can progress over time and may result in deterioration, which may not be obvious to you, but may become permanent or irreversible”. Patients with concerns were asked to contact their GP or local optician.

The hospital further advised that the eye casualty department in Cork University Hospital (CUH) remains operational for urgent or emergency care.

Concerns have been raised about the impact this will have on adults and children awaiting eye services at the hospital.

Speaking to The Echo, Labour Local Area Representative Peter Horgan said: “It is concerning for patients and parents of children with eye issues to receive a note that the waiting list is not being triaged. It’s not practical to divert these people, children and adults, back to GPs to be re-referred,” he added.

“There are over 3,000 children awaiting treatment in CHO 4, which takes in Cork and Kerry. 

"We were promised that capacity was expanding, yet at this hurdle, delays emerge." 

Plans 

In May, The Echo reported that plans to open a new theatre in Cork solely for eye procedures were progressing. The new theatre at South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital (SIVUH) forms part of a plan to tackle lengthy ophthalmology waiting lists in Ireland and save millions of euro on outsourcing treatment.

The project was initially expected to be completed by Q3 2021 amid plans to transfer outpatient eye care from CUH to SIVUH. However, while the plan has seen one theatre become operational at SIVUH, the second has been hit by delays and is now not expected to open until the latter half of this year.

In a statement to The Echo in May, a spokesperson for SIVUH explained that the ophthalmology outpatient and eye casualty service, due to transfer to SIVUH last year, remains at CUH, adding that “all going to plan the service will transfer in Q3 2022”.

“The ophthalmology elective and emergency surgery service has been based at SIVUH since 2014,” the spokesperson stated. 

“A new ophthalmology day care and operating theatre unit is currently under construction and is expected to be complete by Q3/Q4 this year.”

The South/Southwest Hospital Group was contacted for comment.

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