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Concern as in-patient waiting list numbers increase

The figures show that the number of patients waiting over six months for in-patient and day treatment has almost doubled since December.
Jul 23rd 2013, 2:28 PM 3,925 18

CONCERN HAS BEEN expressed over the fact that hospital waiting list numbers for in-patients or day cases have increased and continue to increase.

The National Treatment Purchase Fund figures show that the number of patients waiting for treatment as in-patients or day cases has increased by more than 18 per cent between September 2012 and June 2013.

They show that 49,290 are now on waiting lists, which is up on 41,732 in September 2012.

Concern

Fianna Fáil Public Service Reform spokesperson Sean Fleming has expressed concern at the news that waiting lists are continuing to worsen, saying:

The total number of patients waiting over six months for in patient and day treatment has almost doubled (up 98 per cent) since December – from 6038 to 11,985 in June.

He said that the figures regarding people waiting more than nine months show an increase of 3,621 per cent from 107 last December to 3,982 at the end of June.

The numbers waiting more than a year has increased by more than 2,200 per cent since December 2012, from 36 to 849 in June 2013.

“Year-on-year waiting lists were 4,300 worse in June 2013 than in June 2012. The year on year increase in April was 1,884 and in May it was 3,002. So not only are waiting lists growing, so is the annual rate of increase,” said Fleming.

He said that the figures “give the lie to Minister Reilly’s claims to be making progress on tackling waiting lists”.

“It seems that the Special Delivery Unit was just a short term fix that has failed to tackle the underlying problems,” said Fleming. He suggested that a pattern has been revealed “that shows up the growing dysfunction and disorder within our health service”.

Fleming noted the recent announcement that an estimated €18m was being allocated to five hospitals as part of an effort to bring down waiting times. “However in three of these five hospitals (Beaumont, the Mater and the Midwestern, Limerick) waiting lists continued to rise in June,” he said.

There are 1,502 children on medical and surgical waiting lists for over three months, and 502 waiting for nine months.

There were 1,363 medical and surgical in-patients waiting for over nine months, and 396 in-patients waiting over 12 months. The full figures can been seen here.

When it comes to overall waiting lists, Waterford Regional Hospital saw an increase of 977; Letterkenny General Hospital 512, Tallaght Hospital 457 and St James’s Hospital 413.

Minister for Health

A statement from the Minister for Health said that the achievement of targets related to waiting lists is done during the course of a full year and is naturally affected by seasonal factors.

He said that in the early months of this year Emergency Departments were put under serious pressure nationally due to winter conditions, and this resulted in a large increase in admissions to hospitals from ED departments.

This particularly included older persons who required longer than average lengths of stay.

The hospital system was required by the HSE to ensure safety despite this development and a pull back in elective treatments took place to make certain that there was capacity for the ED admissions.

The statement added that there has also been a very significant reduction in the number of people on trolleys.

The HSE’s new head of Acute Hospitals Ian Carter has made clear that the improvement now paves the way for an accelerated delivery of elective treatments in the rest of 2013, said the statement.

Carter said hospitals are now being required to maximise the delivery of treatments ensuring that the longest waiters are treated first; once the most urgent cases are dealt with.

The target from the Minister for Health for 2013, related to inpatients and day cases, is that no one should be waiting over eight months.

Given the improvements in trolley numbers and with the National Intervention Strategy – it is expected that target will be reached.

Read: Over 49,000 people are waiting for inpatient or day case treatments>

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Aoife Barry

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