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Dublin: 10°C Saturday 16 October 2021

Irish patients left waiting over a year for surgery to restore their eyesight

Almost 4,000 people have been waiting more than 12 months to even see a consultant.

Image: eyesight image via Shutterstock

MORE THAN 6,000 people in Ireland have been waiting more than a year to either see a consultant or have surgery to restore their eyesight.

Figures released to TD Denis Naughten indicate 2,558 people have been waiting over 12 months to have a cataract removed after already waiting to see the consultant to get on the treatment waiting list.

A further 3,811 people have been waiting more than 12 months to get an assessment from a consultant just to get on the 15-18 month waiting list for cataract surgery.

“These delays are leading to further demands being placed on the health service as additional supports and care have to be provided to the thousands of people on these lists until they are in a position to see for themselves again,” Naughten commented.

Furthermore, because of their reduced vision, they are more likely to fall and end up in A&E and because most of them are older persons they are likely to spend far longer in hospital, thereby compounding an already chaotic situation in our emergency departments.

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At the start of this year, the Minister for Health set out requirements for all hospitals to meet and maintain the 18-month maximum wait by the end of June with a further requirement they meet the 15-month maximum wait by the end of the year. Those who fail to meet these standards face financial penalties.

Performance in both in-patient and day cases has been above 96%. Cataract surgery is only ever conducted at in-patient or day-case level.

Naughten has called on the HSE to utilise spare capacity within hospitals to address the wait. In St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin, for examples, 681 cataract procedures were carried out last year and the hospital has 151 people on its opthalmology list with only six patients waiting longer than six months.

He has also urged anyone waiting to see a consultant or for treatment to explore the possibility of access treatment outside and seeking a refund from the HSE under the EU cross-border healthcare directive.

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