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It’s a bad start to the year on national public hospital waiting lists

  • Written by Dr McFerret

It’s a bad start to the year on national public hospital waiting lists.

As predicted here recently, the crazy hospital overcrowding in December and January plus some other factors like a bad flu season, took a lot of beds out of the system that would otherwise have been available for planned operations.

The new waiting list figures for January put the number of patients waiting in Ireland at over 823,600 people.

It is a jump of over 11,100 patients on the December waiting list figures.

There are now 589,670 patients waiting to be seen for the first time by a consultant at an outpatient clinic.

There are also over 83,400 patients waiting for a date for an inpatient or day case operation. 

These official figures are from the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

What is worrying is that in recent months, hospitals have been ‘validating’ waiting lists. 

They were writing directly to patients asking if they still needed treatment and if they failed to respond in good time, they were taken off the list. 

The measure was also aimed at cutting out duplication on lists which is fair enough.

The bad news is that even after the validation process, the lists have risen, not fallen.

Also, the overall figures exclude over 54,000 patients classified as ‘suspended’ from waiting lists for various reasons, including those who have become more sick waiting and are currently not fit for their operations.

Sadly, it is hard to envisage any notable improvements in Irish waiting lists in the near future.

As a result more patients will likely be exploring alternative options like getting healthcare abroad.

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