33% of adults wait more than a year for surgery

A THIRD of the 22,223 people awaiting surgical and other medical procedures have been waiting more than a year for treatment, new national figures show.

Seven hospitals account for over two-thirds of patients waiting more than 12 months for a surgical operation.

And the figures, released yesterday by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) provide a national picture of 36 hospitals.

Letterkenny General Hospital in Co Donegal has the longest waiting list with 1,158 patients waiting more than a year for surgery — 47% of its entire list.

Other hospitals with a large number of people waiting over a year for a surgical operation are:

Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore — 575 patients.

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda — 546.

Beaumont Hospital, Dublin — 360.

Sligo General Hospital — 357.

There are also 703 children waiting longer than 12 months for surgery with Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, Dublin and the Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street, accounting for 73% of the children.

NTPF chief executive Pat O’Byrne said there were too many people waiting over 12 months for treatment. “It is not acceptable,” he said.

Mr O’Byrne said there were better performers such as University College Galway where only four adult patients out of 784 were waiting longer than 12 months and the Mater Hospital in Dublin where only 89 adults are waiting more than a year.

“There is a correlation between the numbers over 12 months and the pattern and number of referrals these hospitals have made through the fund,” he said.

Mr O’Byrne said they would obviously like to see more referrals from the hospitals with a large number of people waiting more than a year for treatment.

A spokeswoman for the Health Service Executive North Western blamed the regular use of Letterkenny General Hospital’s day care unit to accommodate emergency admissions for the build up of a large number of patients waiting more than a year for surgery.

She pointed out that a new 29-bed modular ward due to open in February for emergency admissions would allow the hospital to avoid using the day unit for patient emergencies.

On the plus side, Mr O’Byrne said the overall figures show that for the 20 most common adult surgical operations, such as cataracts, hernias and hip replacements, patients are treated with two to five months, compared to waiting times of two to five years in 2002.

Children were also being treated within two to five months for eight of the 10 most common surgical operations.

The registrar now allows the fund to contact patients waiting more than three months with a direct offer of treatment.

Of 11,379 patients written to with an offer of treatment, only 3,337 replied and 8,042 did not respond.

Mr O’Byrne said they were trying to find out why so few responded.

More in this section