HEALTH Minister Stephen Donnelly has been urged to ensure primary care team are adequately staffed to clear the “worrying” backlog of Clare people waiting for eye appointments.
Figures released to Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne have revealed the adverse impact of Covid-19 on vital health services such as eye appointments.
The current waiting list for Ophthalmology services across the Mid-West at the end of August showed 374 Clare people were waiting for an appointment.
This includes 73 people waiting up to three months, 15 people waiting from three to six months, 147 people waiting from six to nine months, 93 waiting from nine to 12 months and 46 waiting more than one year to get an eye appointment.
It compares to 243 people in total in Limerick who hadn’t got an eye appointment and just one less in North Tipperary contributing to 859 people waiting for this health service through the region.
The figures also show there were 27 people in Limerick waiting up to three months, 18 waiting from three to six months, 81 waiting from six to nine months, 72 waiting nine to 12 months and 45 waiting more than one year.
In Tipperary, 44 people were waiting up to three months, 53 were waiting between three and six months, 63 between six and nine months, 37 between nine and 12 months and 45 more than 12 months.
Deputy Wynne has expressed grave concern about the extent of waiting times for eye appointments in Clare following figures, which were released in reply to her Dáil question.
“The HSE have confirmed to me that over 370 people are awaiting eye appointments across Clare as August 30 with 139 of these waiting more than nine months.
“These are truly worrying numbers to see backlogs on appointments even before Covid-19 caused further delays. We cannot allow these backlogs to remain.
“I note the reply from the Primary Care Team that they are working hard to clear this backlog and that they have planned further clinics in the coming months in Clare to assist with this.
“I would call on the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to ensure that the primary care teams are adequately staffed and resourced to ensure they can achieve this goal.
“We cannot underestimate the need to ensure issues with people’s vision are caught early particularly, in our younger people as this can prevent more serious issues developing down the line,” she said.
In response to Deputy Wynne’s question, HSE Mid West Community Healthcare general manager primary care, Carmel McLaughlin stressed it is important to note that all referrals are triaged by the Community Ophthalmic Physician and the service tries to see all patients triaged within three months.
Ms McLaughlin pointed out the waiting list in Clare had reduced to 320 on September 17 last and noted some additional clinics are planned for the coming weeks to address this list.
The Mid-West HSE had not responded to Clare Champion queries at the time of going to press.