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A major report about waiting lists on the Irish health system has been published by OECD

  • Written by Dr McFerret
A major report on the Irish health system has been published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
It has a fascinating chapter on waiting lists here.
It says that waiting list measures, based on the number of patients registered at a certain point in time may be unreliable gauges of pressures on the system.
The report says it is impossible to know how many patients opt to use the private system, or opt out of treatment altogether.
Patients may also die while waiting for treatment.
The OECD says that estimated waiting times, from specialist assessment to treatment, across comparable official data from other countries for cataract surgery and hip and knee replacement procedures “suggest Ireland ranks poorly, e.g. the third or fourth longest waiting times out of 17 countries”.
It points to a low number of hospital beds and bed occupancy rates well above international safety standards.
The report notes the two-tiered system that has extremely long public hospital waiting lists for hospital inpatient care and outpatient consultations.
The bottom line it says is that waiting lists in Ireland are large in European teams.
Comparing countries can be difficult too, as Ireland does not yet have a unique patient identifier, to track each patient in the system.
There are no national electronic health records, so we simply do not really know exactly how many patients are waiting for treatment and who and where they are.
Tracking patients from GP referral to discharge is not always possible, due to different systems in place.
The average waiting times in Ireland rank below most Eastern European countries but well above those in the UK, Sweden and New Zealand.
The report also says that healthcare spending here is expensive in comparison with other European countries.
With a growing and ageing population, the pressures are only going to grow further.

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