20,000 children on hospital waiting lists

Figures show thousands of children are waiting for extended periods of up to four years to see specialists

20,000 children on hospital waiting lists

More than 20,000 children are on hospital waiting lists, with some waiting more than two years for an MRI scan.

Figures obtained under freedom of information by website mummypages.ie show thousands of children are waiting for extended periods of time to see specialists such as urologists and orthopaedic consultants, and in a handful of cases some children have been waiting for between three and four years.

Those behind the website said the figures were “shocking” and stressed that these figures did not include other areas such as services for children with autism or mental health issues.

The waiting list figures date from the end of October last year and show that:

  • 14,420 children are waiting to see an ear, nose and throat specialist, including 4,492 children waiting between six and 12 months, 3,465 waiting for between 12 and 24 months, and 46 waiting for between two and four years;
  • 1,352 babies are waiting to see a paediatric ear, nose, and throat specialist, with around half waiting between six months and a year and more than a fifth waiting up to two years;
  • 5,102 children are waiting to see an eye specialist (ophthalmologist), with more than one-in-10 children waiting up to two years;
  • 2,792 children are on waiting lists to see an urologist, with around one fifth facing waits of up to two years;
  • 1,110 children are on wait lists to receive specialist orthopaedic treatment, including 422 children and 47 babies waiting for inpatient treatment by an orthopaedic consultant and 624 waiting for outpatient consultations.

The figures also showed demand for children’s MRI services outweighs capacity by almost 200%, so while Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin has the capacity to schedule 1,934 scans per year, it actually receives an average of 3,600 MRI referrals per year or 74 per week, but can only fill 39 MRI consultations each week.

Patients awaiting a MRI scan are classified as either urgent or routine, with urgent cases seen quickly while patients classified as routine can expect to experience waiting times of between 15 and 27 months.

MummyPages.ie spokesperson Laura Haugh said: “With five days to [the election[, we want to hear what the political parties are going to do to solve the shocking hospital waiting periods experienced by our most vulnerable sector of society, our children.”

Responding to the figures, the Children’s Hospital Group said the completion of the children’s hospital and the introduction of the new model of care for paediatric services would result in better clinical outcomes and increased operational efficiency, with €3m committed to the Children’s Hospital Group in the HSE national service plan 2016 for new service developments.

It said three new orthopaedic consultants are being recruited to hospitals with the Children’s Hospital Group in 2016 and a new HSE-funded orthopaedic theatre is also due to open in Crumlin.

“An additional anaesthetist, additional theatre staff and a project manager with a specific remit for orthopaedic services have also been hired to support this new theatre,” said a spokesperson.

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