Consultant recruitment crisis leads to over 47,000 children waiting to see a specialist in Children’s Health Ireland Hospital Group

#CARECANTWAIT campaigner, Consultant Paediatrician Prof. Alf Nicholson speaks about the impact of long waiting times for children: “It is very unacceptable to have a waiting time of more than six months for a young child or infant to see a specialist”.

There are currently 47,255 children across Ireland waiting to see a paediatrician for an outpatient appointment in the three hospitals that make up Children’s Health Ireland, restricting their access to the timely medical care they deserve, says the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA). Of this figure;

  • 7,988 children are waiting to see a paediatric ENT specialist;
  • 5,165 children are waiting to see a paediatric cardiologist;
  • 3,735 children are waiting to see a paediatric orthopaedic specialist; and
  • 1,989 children are waiting to see a paediatric surgeon.

This lack of consultant paediatricians across all paediatric specialities in Ireland is restricting children from access to high quality medical care. This is also contributing massively to growing waiting times where we have seen an increase of 14,965 in the last 36 months, more than a 46% increase in the number of children waiting to see a paediatrician for an outpatient appointment.

The IHCA, through its #CARECANTWAIT campaign is highlighting how the Consultant recruitment crisis is having a detrimental effect on the Irish public health service system in terms of waiting times, timely treatment and patient safety. Currently, 1 in 5 permanent consultant posts in our public health service are either unfilled or filled by temporary appointments.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA), has released a new video today (Monday, 22 July) with Prof. Alf Nicholson, RCSI Professor of Paediatrics and Consultant Paediatrician at Temple Street Children’s Hospital, discussing the effect of long wait times on infants and children.

It’s very unacceptable to have a waiting time of anything other than three to six 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 to be a part of.”

Children’s Health Ireland (CHI), which collects data and records from Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, Temple Street Children’s University Hospital and National Children’s Hospital at Tallaght University Hospital, confirmed in a statement issued on Friday, that the new Paediatric Outpatient and Urgent Care Centre at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, which has cost €25m, will now only open on a phased basis because of “vacancies in consultant posts”.

In its statement, CHI continued; “There are recruitment challenges nationally and internationally in certain specialities such as paediatric radiology and paediatric emergency medicine”.

A recent Medical Council report found that over the period 2015 to 2017, over 700 specialists either left Ireland to work abroad or left the profession, deepening the recruitment and retention issue.

Speaking about the situation, Prof. Nicholson concluded; “The effects that long waiting lists have on patients is significant… is solvable if we bring in new specialists. Specialists that should already be a part the health service system“.

Public, patients and other stakeholders can follow the campaign and add their voices via Twitter by following #CARECANTWAIT and through the IHCA website

Support the IHCA campaign at: #CARECANTWAIT.

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