Health Minister urged to tackle Limerick hospital waiting list issue

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

Minister for Health Simon Harris has been urged to act on lengthy waiting times for appointments at University Hospital Limerick

Minister for Health Simon Harris has been urged to act on lengthy waiting times for appointments at University Hospital Limerick

MINISTER for Health Simon Harris has been urged to act on lengthy waiting times for appointments at University Hospital Limerick, following the release of monthly figures published by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF).

According to new statistics, there has been a slight increase in the number of patients waiting for treatment and appointments at UHL, St John’s Hospital and Croom Orthopaedic Hospital in September.

In total, there were 41,325 patients on a waiting list in Limerick, a 274-person increase on the previous month’s statistics.

Croom was the only hospital where both inpatient and outpatient waiting list numbers decreased. There were 217 inpatients and 6,458 outpatients on a waiting list at Croom.

St John’s Hospital saw a marginal increase in inpatient numbers, as a result of a slight increase in waiting times for general surgery, gynaecology and urology treatment.

St John’s Hospital saw a 13-person increase in inpatient numbers, as a result of a slight increase in waiting times for general surgery, gynaecology and urology treatment. There were 985 inpatients on a waiting list, while there was a drop in outpatient numbers, with 1,175 people waiting for appointments in September.

UHL saw a decrease in inpatient waiting list numbers last month, with 2,508 people waiting for treatment, but saw a 569-person increase in outpatient waiting lists with 29,982 waiting for an appointment in September.

A total of 9,896 patients were waiting for treatment or appointment for more than a year, the large majority of which saw patients waiting for more than 18 months.

There were 5,360 patients waiting for an appointment for more than 18 months, according to the latest NTPF figures. This was an increase of more than 200 patients, the figures show.

Last week, Fianna Fail TD Willie O’Dea asked Minister Harris in the Dail what actions he will be taking to address the waiting list problem at UHL.

Minister Harris said that the hospital group is working to provide “a range of insourced outpatient clinics” across a wide range of specialties including dermatology, endocrinology, gynaecology, and ENT.

“These clinics will actively work to reduce the longest waiting patients across those specialties with the largest waiting lists,” he stated.

In Budget 2019, the government has prioritised improving access and reducing waiting times for patients, with funding to the NTPF increasing from €55m in 2018 to €75m in 2019, of which, €6m will be committed to outpatient activity, the Minister told Deputy O’Dea. 

The UL Hospitals Group is one of the best performing groups for managing waiting lists, NTPF data shows.