- 13,231 added to public outpatient and inpatient/day case waiting lists in April, as 796,603 now on some form of NTPF waiting list;
- Delays in providing care to non-COVID patients of private and public hospitals and cancellation of surgeries during COVID-19 crisis will increase waiting lists further;
- Urgent implementation of the 2018 National Development Plan and Capacity Review recommendations to put in place an additional 2,600 acute hospital beds and 4,500 community care beds is now more important than ever and needs to be funded without delay.
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has, today, (Saturday, 16 May 2020), renewed its call for the urgent implementation of the 2018 National Development Plan (NDP) and Capacity Review recommendations to put in place an additional 2,600 acute hospital beds and 4,500 community care beds across our health service.
According to consultants, these recommendations are now more important than ever and need to be funded without delay to tackle the unacceptable waiting lists and the backlog of postponed treatments for non-COVID patients.
The IHCA has highlighted for some years the need to significantly expand our acute hospital capacity to provide timely care to patients. This is now more urgent than ever in view of the challenging times ahead. The call comes as latest waiting list figures show:
- 796,603 people are now waiting on some form of NTPF waiting list, an increase of 10,567 since last month and an increase of 33,928 on the same period last year;
- 567,329 outpatients nationally are waiting to be seen by a consultant, an increase of 4,636 (0.8%) on last month and 15,364 (2.8%) more than this time last year; with
- 86,343 now wating for inpatient/day case treatment, an increase of 8,595 or 11% on last month and an additional 19,780 (29.7%) patients since the start of the year.
The impact of the emergency measures taken to curtail the spread of COVID-19 has meant that almost all non-urgent care across our hospitals was postponed and is only now slowly restarting for some health conditions.
Commenting on the latest waiting list figures for April 2020 and the growing backlog of those seeking care for non-COVID-19 conditions, Dr Donal O’Hanlon, President, IHCA, said:
“The confirmation from the NTPF that there are now almost 800,000 people waiting for care across our public acute hospitals should prompt greater urgency from Government, the Department of Health and the HSE.
“These numbers will grow further over the coming months as the impact of current delays in providing care to non-COVID patients of private and public hospitals and the cancellation of surgeries during COVID-19 crisis takes effect.
“The solutions to issues, such as waiting lists, which our health service continues to grapple with have already been recommended but remain to be implemented. These include the 2018 National Development Plan and Capacity Review recommendations to put in place an additional 2,600 acute hospital beds and 4,500 community care beds. Increased acute hospital beds are necessary to not only increase capacity but to facilitate patient isolation and to underpin physical distancing in our public hospitals.
“Now more than ever, these beds need to be funded and put in place without delay. Workable solutions, such as these, if prioritised, can save lives and deliver necessary timely care to patients.
“We must also finally tackle all the public hospital resource deficits. The next Government cannot continue to ignore the fact that we need to recruit and retain an increased number of hospital consultants to work in public hospitals and fill the large number of vacant permanent consultant posts. This stood at about 500 before the commencement of the COVID-19 crisis and will have increased further in the interim.
“As we continue to tackle the current challenges brought to our already strained health service by COVID-19, we need to urgently implement the recommendations in the 2018 Capacity Review and the NDP which have unfortunately been neglected by the Government over the past two years”.