‘Lifelong impact’ from delays as 9,000 children on waiting lists in Cork

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has expressed concern about negative consequences for children facing delays in accessing care, as 101,000 children across Ireland are on some form of waiting list
‘Lifelong impact’ from delays as 9,000 children on waiting lists in Cork

In Cork hospitals, there are 9,001 children on some form of NTPF waiting list for appointments or procedures 2,116 of whom have been waiting a year or more.

CONSULTANTS have warned that children are the worst impacted by long hospital waiting lists, with more than 9,000 children in Cork now waiting for appointments and procedures.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has expressed concern about negative consequences for children facing delays in accessing care, as 101,000 children across Ireland are on some form of waiting list.

This is according to figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), which also shows that almost one in three children are waiting longer than a year for treatment or assessment by a hospital consultant.

When the additional 8,294 children awaiting CTs, MRIs or ultrasounds at the end of March 2022 are added, the total number of children on waiting lists is closer to 110,000.

In Cork hospitals, there are 9,001 children on some form of NTPF waiting list for appointments or procedures 2,116 of whom have been waiting a year or more.

'LIFELONG IMPACT'

Speaking on behalf of the IHCA, recently retired consultant paediatric radiologist Professor Stephanie Ryan said that a delayed diagnosis or treatment for a child can have a “lifelong impact”.

“For example, with simple ear problems in young children, this can affect their language learning at a critical time.

“Sometimes the treatment of children with special needs or the formation of a plan for their care, can be delayed by waiting for an MRI scan.

“This could mean a long wait for access to treatment at a critical age in a child’s development,” she said.

“If a child needs a scan, I just wish we could provide the service and not have them waiting. No consultant or parent wants this.”

The IHCA is warning that a failure in staffing, capacity resourcing, and keeping pace with medical advances, has “left Ireland’s public hospitals lagging behind in their ability to deliver timely care to children”.

The IHCA says that the “severe” shortage of consultants is the main contributor to the “unacceptable” delays in providing care to children.

According to data from the HSE, one in five permanent consultant posts (882) are currently vacant or filled on a temporary basis. This includes 60 (19%) of the 320 approved posts in radiology.

Ireland has the lowest number of medical specialists per 1,000 population in the EU at 1.59, 38% below the EU average of 2.56.

In radiology, the number of specialists is even lower at 40% below the EU average on a population basis.

The IHCA has described pressures of managing waiting lists, onerous on-call duties, shortages of resources and unfilled consultant posts, and pay discrimination imposed on consultants contracted after 2012, as all being factors that make consultant posts in Ireland unattractive.

The IHCA says that it is campaigning for the Government and health service management to end pay discrimination, “which is a vital step to attract applicants for consultant posts in Ireland”.

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