Waiting times for hospital appointments grow during pandemic
Almost 800 people waiting more than 18 months
The number of people waiting more than a year and a half for outpatient procedures in Cavan General Hospital has more than doubled since the start of the pandemic - a statistic described as "outrageous" by a local TD.
Figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) show 795 people have been waiting more than 18 months. That’s up from 314 in March 2020.
Another 686 people have been waiting between 12 and 18 months for their appointment.
However, a breakdown of figures shows the overall total number of people waiting for outpatient procedures locally has dropped since the beginning of the pandemic.
Some 6,001 people were waiting for outpatient procedures at CGH at the end of August.
This compares with 7,559 on the list in March of last year, when the first restrictions were put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Ireland.
The NTPF figures show respiratory specialists have the most people waiting more than 18 months with 262 people listed. This is followed by orthopaedics with 235.
No patients were waiting more than a year for a general surgery or urology appointment.
Inpatient waiting list falling
The inpatient waiting list at Cavan General has also fallen since the beginning of the pandemic, with 327 people listed at the end of August - down from 494.
However, wait times are increasing slightly.
No patients were listed as waiting more than nine months for an appointment in March 2020.
However, the latest figures show eight people are now waiting more than a year and four of those have been on the list for more than 18 months.
Local Sinn Féin TD Pauline Tully says the figures are “outrageous and very concerning”.
“There is no dedicated unit within the HSE to look at tackling waiting lists. This shows it’s not being taken seriously,” she told The Anglo-Celt.
Deputy Tully says she’s concerned about the impact the pandemic could have on waiting lists, with treatments and diagnoses delayed.
“People were genuinely afraid to go near hospitals at the beginning of the pandemic”, she said. “There’s a backlog in all services and it’s shown in the numbers waiting for appointments with BreastCheck and CervicalCheck.”
Nationally, more than 900,000 people are on waiting lists, up by over 66,000 on the same time last year.
The Irish Hospital Consultants’ Association has warned the list may top one million shortly.
It comes after the two directors of Sláintecare resigned over what they say is a lack of political will to see changes made to the health system.
Waiting lists have increased since the publication of the Sláintecare report in 2017.
Deputy Tully was also critical of the lack of investment in an integrated IT system, which would allow for better tracking and tracing of patients within the health system.
“The cyber attack showed the lack of investment there was in the IT infrastructure,” she added.