Professor Irvine to continue to ‘advocate strongly’

Professor Alan Irvine, Consultant Dermatologist at Children’s Health Ireland at Crumlin, has been elected as President of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA).

The change in leadership at the IHCA comes at a time where around 500 permanent consultant posts are currently either vacant or filled on a temporary basis in our acute public hospitals, and almost one million people in Ireland find themselves on some form of waiting list for treatment or to see a hospital consultant.

The effect of the widespread consultant and capacity deficit has only been amplified during the Covid-19 pandemic. With the latest figures on hospital waiting lists due to be released later today (Friday) consultants expect to see further increases in the number of people waiting to see a specialist or receive treatment.

According to Professor Irvine, the IHCA continues to advocate strongly for an improved, sustainable health system that delivers timely access to care for all patients – both in the ongoing Covid-19 environment and the longer term.

The Association has warned health leaders that action must be taken now to address hospital capacity deficits before the winter months.

72,695 people have now been added to various National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF)* waiting lists in 2020, as the latest figures (for August 2020) show:

841,459 people on some form of NTPF waiting list in August, an increase of 9,016 (1%) in one month and 72,695 (9.5%) since the start of the year;

610,996 outpatients nationally are waiting to be seen by a consultant, an increase of 9,634 (1.6%) on July’s figures and 57,562 (10.4%) during 2020;

77,620 now wating for inpatient/ day case treatment, an increase of 11,057 (16.6%) since the start of 2020; with 89% (+8,127) more patients now waiting over 12 months for inpatient/day case treatment compared with the start of the year.

The latest waiting list figures come as the familiar reports of growing trolley figures appear across the media, with over 200 admitted patients** left waiting on a trolley for a hospital bed on Tuesday of this week – a worrying trend this early in September, according to the IHCA.

Commenting Professor Irvine, said, “This latest rise in patient waiting times comes the same day NPHET warns of the high likelihood of insufficient staffing levels to respond to service demands.

“The persistent lack of clear action from the HSE and Department of Health to outline steps being taken to brace this country’s health service for the coming months is a cause for concern. We still do not have a winter plan and it remains unclear what increased public hospital capacity will be provided.

“We know what the problems are, and we know what it takes to fix them: fill the 500 vacant permanent consultant posts, open up the required number of beds and ensure they are resourced and staffed. Yet there is no clear commitment to doing this from the HSE or Government.

“Our health service, hospital management and clinical teams need fully funded plans in place with cross government backing to fill the vacant consultant posts and increase hospital capacity.

“If the Government adopts the same approach as other years and significantly increased capacity is not urgently provided to prepare for the extraordinary winter surge due to COVID-19 and other demand increases, then it will simply be too late.”

Representing over 90% of Ireland’s hospital consultants, the officers elected to lead the representative body are:

  • Vice President – Dr. Gabrielle Colleran, Consultant Radiologist, Children’s Health Ireland at Temple Street.
  • Treasurer – Prof. Clare Fallon, Consultant in Geriatric Medicine, Regional Hospital Mullingar.
  • Membership Secretary – Dr. Conor O’Riordan, Consultant Radiologist, St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny

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