Sick children face 4-year wait list at Crumlin

More than 16,000 chronically ill children suffering from heart, bone, and sight problems are being forced to wait up to four years for vital hospital treatment.

Figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund outlined the serious waiting list situation at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, Dublin.

According to the end of June figures, of the 16,000 children waiting for outpatient appointments, 1,201 have seen their treatment delayed for more than two years — almost double the 645-person wait just 12 months ago.

The group includes 1,132 who have been unable to access the care they need for between two and three years, 59 waiting three to four years, and 10 waiting over four years.

The corresponding figures at the start of the year were 579, 62, and four respectively.

Among the most concerning waits detailed by are those affecting young children with heart, orthopaedic, eyesight, and hearing problems.

Currently, 61 children with heart problems are facing waits of two to three years, while two more have been told they will not be given an outpatient consultant appointment for between three and four years.

A further 360 children with serious eye problems are waiting more than two years for an ophthalmology outpatient appointment, with 228 waiting two to three years before they are seen by an ear, nose and throat specialist.

A total of 263 patients with orthopaedic conditions are waiting between two and five years to be seen, including six waiting more than four years.

In addition, four more patients who are suffering from conditions linked to infectious diseases have been told they cannot access the help they need for more than four years.

A spokesperson for the hospital had not responded to a number of queries from the Irish Examiner at the time of going to press.

However, due to the significant outpatient waits the facility has started to review all outpatient referrals in recent months in order to help ensure the most pressing cases are seen first.

The HSE and the Department of Health’s special delivery unit — which Health Minister Dr James Reilly has tasked specifically with cutting hospital waits — are working with Crumlin to address the situation.

This includes contacting every family on the list to assess their needs, a process which is due to be concluded over the coming weeks.

Just over 370,000 people of all ages are on some form of outpatient waiting list in hospitals across the country.

Dr Reilly has repeatedly stated that tackling Ireland’s chronic long-term waiting lists problem is among his main priorities for the service.

He has previously said nobody will be waiting for longer than 12 months for a first-time outpatient consultant appointment by the end of 2013.

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