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More than six lakh patients, including children, are awaiting treatment in Ireland; NTPF figures mark the country’s health crisis

DUBLIN: There are 6,12,817 patients waiting for treatment in Ireland, including children. It is worrying that patients with heart disease and cancer also fall into this category.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that 45,000 children, all of whom have been referred for an appointment from Children’s Ireland, are awaiting care.

The latest figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) further highlight the health crisis in the country. These are the figures till the end of October.

The report also reveals that more than eight lakh people are on the waiting list for health care, including various hospital groups in the country. The number of patients on the waiting list has increased by 45,600 compared to last year.

Vacancies of consultants are not being filled

Meanwhile, vacancies for consultants are also on the rise. The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) points out that there are currently 500 vacancies to be filled. IHCA President, Professor Alan Irvine asks how better services can be provided to patients when there are so many vacancies.

Treatment cannot be guaranteed without ensuring basic facilities. Acute hospital capacity needs to be enhanced to recruit and retain the required consultants as well as provide essential care to non-COVID-19 patients and COVID-19 patients – Says Prof. Alan Irvine.

Waiting time is increasing every year

David Cullinane, Sinn Féin’s health spokesman, said the new figures show that the waiting time is increasing every year. As of October 2016, the number of people on the outpatient waiting list was 4,38,931. This rose to 5,67,221 by September 2019. Now it stands at 6,12,817 – Mr. Cullinane said.

7,963 people have been waiting more than a year for a cardiology appointment.

Cardiac problems are the leading cause of death along with cancer. Yet the treatment cannot be given for a year. Mr. Cullinane says the number of people waiting for treatment has doubled in a year. The waiting time is increasing every year, and it should be remembered that this is not related to COVID-19, he said.

Pediatric scoliosis treatment in children, cancer services – medical, radiology and surgical oncology – have dropped by 30% this year. Cullinan says that if the health sector does not intervene with a practical view of investing in the health sector, people especially those in need of emergency care, will face more difficulties.

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