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'Scandalous': The number of children waiting over 18 months for appointments rises by 450%

A total of 52,257 child patients were waiting at any length of time for their first appointment at the end of July.

Image: Shutterstock/Billion Photos

THE GOVERNMENT HAS come in for strong criticism after new figures show a significant increase in the number of children waiting for over 18 months for an outpatient appointment.

Figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund for July show an increase in the number of outpatient appointments for paediatrics patients.

The NTPF measures the number of patients waiting for appointments. Its outpatient list measures the number of patients waiting for a first appointment at a consultant-led outpatient clinic.

An outpatient is a patient who attends a hospital for treatment without actually staying in the hospital overnight (as opposed to an inpatient).

Fianna Fáil analysed the number of outpatients waiting for an appointment in the paediatrics departments of hospitals to date this year compared to 2016.

According to that analysis, a total of 6,037 children were waiting over 18 months for their first appointment at the end of July. This compares to just 1,103 last year, a difference of 4,934 (or 450%).

A total of 52,257 child patients were waiting at any length of time for their first appointment at the end of July, compared to 42,701 last year (a difference of 9,556).

Commenting on the figures, Fianna Fáil spokesperson on primary care and community health services John Brassil said that the increase was “scandalous”.

“There should never be a situation where children, or indeed any person, should have to wait 18 months for an appointment, yet we have the scandalous situation at present of having 6,037 of them waiting,” he said.

“If a GP feels that a child, or indeed any person, needs to be seen by a hospital consultant, then there is a clinical need, and the health system must be able to respond in a timely manner.

This isn’t happening, and it’s putting a great deal of stress on families, and community based health professionals.

Brassil criticised the government, and said that more needed to be done by Government to “deal with the severe capacity issues that are crippling our health system”.

TheJournal.ie has contacted the HSE for comment.

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