The number of people waiting more than 18 months for an outpatient appointment at UHG has gone up two thirds in the last year.
According to figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund there were 5,466 people who’ve been on an outpatient waiting list for more than 18 months at UHG in May, a 62% increase on the same period last year.
Portiuncula Hospital has far, far less people waiting that long for outpatient care, only 177 in May. However those numbers have still been going up dramatically. There were 99 people waiting more than 18 months in January, and only 20 in May 2017.
Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte says that nationwide there are more than 10,000 children who’ve been waiting more than 18 months to be seen, while in 2016 there were only 833. That’s 12 times higher than it was two years ago.
Deputy Rabbitte warns that leaving children waiting for a medical appointment for so long is bad for their mental health, “I have said it before but it cannot be emphasised enough, these unacceptably long waiting times have a significant impact on outcomes and on the stress and anxiety levels of the children themselves,” she said.
“Eighteen months can seem like an infinite amount of time to a child, and having to wait that long to see a doctor in a hospital is like a cloud hanging over their head.”
University Hospital Waterford had the longest waiting list in May, with 8,538 people waiting more than 18 months. But there were also four hospitals which didn’t have any patients going that long without being seen: St. Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny; Wexford General Hospital, The Rotunda Hospital in Dublin; and Bantry General Hospital.
UHG has seen an increase rate slightly above the national average. There are currently 79,257 people waiting over 19 months in hospitals nationwide, nearly 30,000, or 59%, more than there were this time last year.
Deputy Rabbitte says the government is drafting an Outpatient Plan for 2018 to try and tackle the backlog of people who’ve been on a waiting list the longest. But the Fianna Fáil TD said its unacceptable for the plan to still be a work in progress this late in the year.
“I understand that a draft Outpatient Action Plan for 2018 has been presented to Minister Harris. The fact that an action plan for 2018 is still in draft form in the middle of June is appalling. He must publish it now as a matter of urgency and priority should be given to the 10,000 children waiting since November 2016,” insisted Depu