IHCA: End of Year Review

Ongoing Shortages of Concern – Written by Professor Alan Irvine, President, Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA)

HPN December 2021 Digital – page 22

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has warned that Irelands ongoing shortage of hospital consultants. This is across a large number of specialties in Dublin’s acute hospital and mental health services. It’s restricting patients from accessing timely, high-quality medical and surgical care and is contributing massively to growing waiting lists in the region.

A total of 241,925 people are currently awaiting an outpatient appointment with a Consultant at hospitals. This is across the capital, an increase of almost 87,000 (+56%) since 2015.

More than 33,500 patients are currently waiting for inpatient or day case treatment at Dublin hospitals. This is 45% of the national figure of 74,869 at the end of September. Of these, more than 7,300 are waiting more than 12 months. It is an increase of almost 2,200 (42%) in such ‘longer waiters’ over the past six years.

More figures from IHCA:

A further 9,637 people are currently awaiting a gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy. This brings the total number of people in Dublin awaiting hospital treatment or assessment by a consultant to 285,104.

Across the capital’s public hospitals and three Community Health Organisations serving the region, 246 out of a total of 1,714 approved Consultant posts were vacant or filled on a temporary or agency basis (as at May 2021) – that is one third of the 727 posts nationally not filled as needed. One in five permanent hospital consultant posts are currently either vacant or filled on a temporary basis across the country.

However, in CHOs 6, 7 and 9, which provide the capital’s mental health and community services, the Consultant vacancy rates are almost 1 in 4.

The scale of vacancies in the capital has directly contributed to some of the longest hospital waiting lists in the country.

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