Outpatient waiting list a ‘national disgrace’

THE waiting list for people in the mid-west needing outpatient appointments for neurological illnesses was yesterday branded a “national disgrace” by Labour’s health spokesperson Jan O’Sullivan.

Figures released by the HSE showed the outpatient waiting list now stands at 2,137.

And, of that number, 638 patients have been waiting three years or longer for an outpatient appointment.

The mid-west has just one neurologist. Up to two years ago patients with neurological illnesses had to be treated by a Cork-based consultant who covered the mid-west on a visiting basis.

The HSE said yesterday that they were now referring people who have been long-term waiting list patients for treatment through the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF).

Ms O’Sullivan said: “The present situation is an absolute disaster. People with neurological illnesses need to be treated quickly and now we learn there are hundreds who have been waiting over three years for an outpatient appointment.”

She described the present neurological service in the region as “a non-service”.

Ms O’Sullivan said: “We have one neurologist and I understand that this consultant does not have the necessary team one would normally have working around a consultant.

“It is quite incredible what is happening, that people with neurological treatment needs are waiting for more three years. This would not happen in the most backward country in the world,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

“With neurological complaints, time is of the essence. Patients need to be diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible. And this is not happening.

“Referring them to the NTPF is something of a red herring and a bit of a joke,” the TD said.

“With some procedures people can be treated quickly under the NTPF but not neurological patients, due to the shortage of consultants. People with neurological complaints will just be placed on another queue under the NTPF,” she claimed.


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