OVER 58,000 people are waiting for care across hospitals in the Midwest as one in three consultants posts remain unfilled.
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has warned that the ongoing shortage of hospital consultants across many specialties in the Midwest and severe hospital capacity deficits are preventing patients from accessing timely, high-quality medical and surgical care.
Across Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary, there are now 58,774 people waiting for public hospital inpatient/day treatment, GI endoscopies or an outpatient appointment with a consultant.
Outpatient waiting lists at hospitals in the Midwest region have almost doubled since 2015, according to new figures released by the HSE.
Th IHCA have said that scale of the consultant vacancies in the region has directly contributed to some of the longest hospital waiting lists in the country.
UHL has experienced some of the worst overcrowding nationally in recent months with a total of 1,268 patients treated on a hospital trolley in July alone and a record 126 patients on trolleys and awaiting admission to a bed on April 26 – the highest number in any Irish hospital on any single day in 16 years.
As a result, over 4,300 essential inpatient and day case procedures had to be cancelled at UHL in 2021, which in turn impacted further on growing waiting lists.
The IHCA say this is a direct result of significant bed capacity shortages across the Midwest region.
UHL has the lowest number of inpatient beds compared with the number of Emergency Department attendances it is responsible for providing care to.
IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine said: "The severe shortage of consultants and the number of vacant posts across the UL Hospitals Group are the main contributors to the unacceptable delays in providing care to patients in the Midwest region.
"Meeting the healthcare needs of the 58,700 people currently waiting to be assessed or treated by a consultant will only be possible by urgently filling the one in three permanent approved consultant posts that are currently unfilled and rapidly expanding the region’s hospital beds, operating theatres and other essential hospital facilities."
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