MORE THAN 24,000 people are waiting for outpatient appointments in Limerick hospitals, according to a recent report published by the National Treatment Purchase Fund.
The figures published on November 26 show that there are 18,703 people waiting for outpatient appointments at UHL, 1,198 at St John’s Hospital, and 4,201 at Croom Orthopaedic Hospital.
Additionally, there are exactly 3,674 patients waiting for inpatient or day case treatment in Limerick; 2,424 at UHL, 914 at St John’s, and 336 at Croom.
Of the 18,703 people waiting for outpatient arrangements, 2,255 people have been waiting for more than a year, while there are 109 patients waiting for inpatient or day case treatment.
Since March 2015, which were the earliest available monthly statistics, there has been an increase of 2,899 people waiting for outpatient appointments.
At the start of the year, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar promised that no patient will be waiting for more than 15 months, both for inpatient treatment and outpatient appointments.
Though the figures show that there are 1,036 people waiting for outpatient appointments for more than 15 months, there are only 37 people waiting for inpatient or day case treatment at UHL for the same time period.
The UL Hospitals Group, according to the figures, is the best performing group in the country for people waiting for inpatient treatment and outpatient appointments. UHL is the only hospital within the group that has people waiting for day case treatment for more than a year.
St John’s Hospital is one of three hospitals in Ireland — of the 43 listed — to have no waiting list for outpatient appointments for more than a year.
The inpatient waiting list at Croom has increased by more than 95% since the first quarter of 2015, as there were 171 people waiting for treatment in March.
Fianna Fáil TD Willie O’Dea asked Minister in the Dáil on Friday what measures are being taken to address “the long waiting times for an outpatient appointment” UHL.
Minister Varadkar responded in the Dail to Deputy O’Dea’s query that an “outpatient lead” has been appointed to oversee the management of waiting list, and that improvements “are being achieved”.
He said that arrangements are being made in ENT (ears, nose and throat) and orthopaedics for patients to be possibly referred onto private care.
He added that additional clinics have been put in place across the group in specialties such as ophthalmology, orthopaedics and neurology.