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Consultants association warns of long waiting lists for bowel disease treatment

The IHCA is calling for the government to address a shortage of consultants.

THE IRISH HOSPITAL Consultants Association is warning of long waiting lists to treat patients with inflammatory bowel disease, especially in regional hospitals.

Currently, nearly 17,000 patients are on a waiting list to see a gastroenterologist, an increase of 71% since 2015.

Consultants are concerned that waiting lists for gastroenterological procedures are seriously impacting patients’ outcomes and quality of life.

Dr Brian Egan, a Consultant Gastroenterologist at Mayo University Hospital, said that pandemic has had a “major impact on gastroenterology throughout the country”.

“Many of us who work in the care of patients with stomach and bowel problems and liver disease were re-allocated in the first wave of the pandemic to treat patients with Covid,” Dr Egan said.

“It also resulted in an absolute stop of scheduled work, which is essential for early detection and prevention of stomach cancer, bowel cancer, and oesophageal cancer.”

The ICHA is reiterating its call to the government to address a shortage of consultants.

Dr Egan said Ireland is “finding it increasingly difficult to attract Consultants and younger doctors to work in our hospitals”.

“Trying to attract these doctors back to our regional hospitals in Ireland with more onerous on-call duties, less resources, and reduced access to specialist care is really difficult,” he said.

President of the IHCA Professor Alan Irvine said that “with so many posts unfilled across so many specialties, there is a limit to what we can achieve and that shouldn’t be the case in a developed nation like Ireland”.

“We must appoint additional Consultants and address the long-standing issues of pay inequity and poor working conditions quickly,” Irvine said.

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