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Hospital shortages New figures show more than 100,000 children waiting on essential hospital care

Commenting on the figures the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) said that 885,189 people are now on some form of waiting list to be treated or seen by a doctor

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More than 100,000 children are now waiting for essential hospital care, it emerged today.

New figures on national waiting lists show 630,270 adults and children need an outpatient appointment.

Another 76,510 adults and children are in a queue for surgery.

And 34,377 are waiting for a gastrointenstinal scope, according to the latest figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Commenting on the figures the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) said that 885,189 people are now on some form of waiting list to be treated or seen by a doctor.

Almost one in nine of these are children.

It pointed to "the severe shortage of hospital consultants in our public health service as the main contributor to the unacceptable delays in providing care to children."

Ireland has the lowest number of medical specialists on a population basis in Europe, and approximately half the number of paediatricians than the EU average

An increase of 199 (79pc) in the number of Consultant Paediatricians and Neonatologist is required by 2028 to address current shortfalls and meet increased patient demand.

IHCA President Alan Irvine said: “The early years in a child’s life are critically important to their lifelong health and development. With more than 100,000 children waiting for hospital treatment, our health service is failing our youngest patients during these essential, formative years by making them wait for essential treatment and care.

This is solvable by filling the one in five permanent hospital consultant posts that are currently unfilled and appointing significant additional consultants.
“It is unacceptable to have a waiting time of anything other than three months, at most, for a young child or infant to see a specialist. Sadly, at the moment our wait times are well above that, and that is very distressing for the children and their families, as well as for their treating consultants.

“These growing waiting lists are not simply a result of Covid-19 but demonstrate the impact of years of consultant shortages and underinvestment in capacity across the health system. We have a chronic recruitment and retention crisis with 1 in 5 permanent hospital consultant posts not filled as needed.

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"This recruitment and retention crisis is being exacerbated further by the health services’ current proposals for a new consultant contract. The draft terms are driving the highly trained specialists we desperately need to live and work abroad. To meaningfully tackle this problem and halt the growth of record lists, a new approach is needed.

" The IHCA is seeking urgent negotiations on the contract proposals to ensure that the contract is modified so that our public hospitals can recruit and retain the number of consultants they need for the patients who depend on them.”

The largest child outpatient waiting lists were in the following specialties:

  • Ear, Nose and Throat - 17,893
  • Paediatrics - 13,065
  • Dermatology - 8,735
  • Ophthalmology - 6,851
  • Orthopaedics - 6,536

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