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HEALTH Minister Stephen Donnelly has admitted he is concerned about the “significant risk” to patients attending the ED in University Hospital Limerick (UHL) which was identified in a recent report.

Clare patients continue to endure significant wait times for procedures

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MORE than 180 Clare patients were waiting for cataract, hip, knee and small volume procedures last May, new figures have revealed, writes Dan Danaher.

The HSE has confirmed there were 99 Clare patients waiting for a cataract operation, 33 for hip, 35 for knee and nine for small volume procedures on May 31.

These figures were provided in response to a Dáil question tabled by Deputy Michael McNamara.

The HSE recognised that waiting times for scheduled appointments and procedures have been impacted in the last 16 months as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic and more recently as a result of the ransomware attack.

While significant progress was made in reducing waiting times from June 2020 onwards, the surge in Covid-19 cases in the first quarter of 2021, and the resultant curtailment of acute hospital services, is reflected in the most recently available waiting list figures to May 2021.

On March 23 2021 the HSE published the “Safe Return to Health Services Plan”, outlining a three phased approach for the proposed restoration of services across community services, acute hospital operations, cancer services and screening services.

It set target times for their safe return and details the conditions and challenges that will have to be met. However, the implementation of this plan has been suspended pending the resolution of the recent ransomware attack, which had a significant impact on acute hospitals.

The HSE has been working since May 14 last to recover the effects of the cyber attack on its systems. The HSE advise that at present most systems are operational and services are returning to normal activity.

There is a challenge in back entering data and there are still a number of areas of ongoing concern. The HSE was already seeking to recover from the Covid peak in the first quarter of this year and the ransomware attack has delayed this and had the effect of increasing access delays for services.

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