THE Mayor of Clare has expressed fears that Mid-West outpatient and in-patient waiting lists will increase even further, as a result of the recent overcrowding in local acute hospitals.
The UL Hospitals Group has been forced to cancel surgery at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) as a short-term measure to free up beds to deal with overcrowding in the emergency department (ED).
Councillor Tom McNamara believes out-patient and in-patient waiting lists will “get worse before they get better”, following the recent widescale cancellations of surgical procedures.
“We are talking about the need to tackle waiting lists but nothing is happening. We have become desensitised to seeing thousands of patients on waiting lists. It is unacceptable to have more than 32,000 patients on a waiting list in the Mid-West,” he said.
Councillor McNamara has called on the HSE to make people aware of the criteria of the Cross Border Initiative, as a means of tackling large in-patient and out-patient lists in the Mid-West.
The HSE operates a Cross-Border Healthcare Directive (CBD), for people entitled to public patient healthcare in Ireland who want to avail of that healthcare in another EU/EEA member state.If a public procedure cannot be done within a reasonable timeframe, a patient can pay to get the operation completed in the North of Ireland and then apply to the HSE to recoup this cost, once they comply with the terms of the scheme.
Councillor McNamara said he has formally requested a presentation on this issue at a HSE West Forum meeting and was promised a briefing for members but this has not happened yet.
His comments came after the publication of figures, showing that the number of in-patients waiting more than 18 months in UHL went up from 108 to 188 from February 2017 to February 2018. The number of out-patients waiting for appointments in the Mid-West has fallen from 36,508 to 32,086 in the same period.
New figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund also show that the number of people waiting 18 months or more for in-patient appointments at University Hospital Limerick has jumped from 108 to 188 (at the end of Feburary) in the space of a year.