As the vaccine roll out continues, many of our recently inoculated older people now face the prospect of a lengthy wait to see consultants and specialists for other treatable health conditions.
So says local Labour Senator Mark Wall as he outlined the huge increases in hospital waiting lists figures around the midlands area.
The Athy native says that nationally over the past year, there has been a 75% increase in the number of people aged 65 years and older who have already been waiting for at least 12 months – with 78,476 people within our older community in this situation as of the end of March 2021.
Recent data released by the National Treatment Purchase Fund shows just how daunting the situation is with the hospitals of Naas, Portlaoise and Tullamore all showing large increases in numbers of people amongst the 65 plus population waiting at least 12 months for inpatient or outpatient appointments over the past year.
Portlaoise Hospital has experienced a 79% increase while Naas General Hospital has seen an increase of 133% in the number of patients waiting for at least 12 months.
The Midlands Regional Hospital Tullamore has seen a 57% – with a list size of 2,557 at the end of March.
These figures come a month after the Irish Hospital Consultants Association warned almost a million people could be on waiting lists for hospital care by the end of this year unless the HSE addresses the lack of beds and need for greater recruitment.
The consultants’ group warned that public hospitals are on track to suspend more than 900,000 patient appointments by the end of this year when 2020 and 2021 figures are combined and when compared with pre-Covid times.
The group expressed concern about public hospitals’ capacity to address these waiting lists and meet this built-up demand created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Senator Wall outlined the
He said: “The optimism for many our older population after receiving the vaccine has quickly been replace with a realisation that they still face uncertainty around getting known health concerns addressed.
“As one person put it to me, ‘I waited over a year for this vaccine and now I face the possibility of years going by while waiting for the hip surgery that will allow me to carry on my life without the constant pain I am living with’.
“What is really difficult is the thought that somehow the time spent in the pandemic is just getting added on to the long waiting times we experienced prior to the pandemic and the real possibility that our older community is waiting for more than two years for the procedures and treatments the health service already know they need.
“We really need the government to think outside the box and look at what can be done today to address the capacity issue, by making sure everything has been done to get all departments up and running to treat those who are in a position to be safely treated, including the renationalisation of the private hospital sector to bring these waiting times down.”