Almost 30,000 women are waiting for an out-patient appointment to see a gynaecologist, an increase of 43% since 2014, it has emerged.
At the end of May, there were 29,152 women waiting, a 4.4% increase compared to the same time last year.
According to figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund over 5,000 women are waiting a year or more to be seen.
The former master of the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin, Rhona Mahony, said waiting times had a huge impact on the quality of a woman’s life.
“There are so many simple procedures that can change lives and radically improve a patient’s quality of life,” said Dr Mahony, who is now the director of women’s health for the Ireland East Hospital Group.
“And not to be able to offer that to patients, in a country like Ireland, is really quite distressing, mainly for patients but also for those charged with giving care.”
Dr Mahony appears in one of seven videos as part of the #CareCantWait campaign by the Irish Hospital Consultant Association (IHCA) .
Ireland has the third highest fertility rate in the EU but less than half of the EU average number of specialists in obstetrics and gynaecology.
The IHCA point out that almost one in five permanent consultant posts in the public health service are either unfilled or filled by temporary appointments.
The number of women on the gynaecology outpatient list at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CMUH) fell from 3,634 to 1,533 in the 12 month period to May.
The decrease follows a public outcry but consultants at CUMH are still struggling to meet timelines for urgent and non-urgent cases and they are concerned that women can face long treatment delays if they become inpatients.
At the end of March, there were 421 women waiting more than two years for surgery at CUMH, according to figures supplied by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, in a written ail reply to Fianna Fáil’s Michael McGrath.
The IHCA’s video series also features Alf Nicholson a consultant paediatrician at Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin, who criticises the time children wait to see a consultant.
“It’s very unacceptable to have a waiting time of anything other than three to six months at most for a young child or infant to see a specialist,” said Prof Nicholson. “Sadly, at the moment our wait times are well above that.”
IHCA vice president and consultant rheumatologist Laura Durcan said consultants felt duty-bound to go public about the situation.
“None of this is okay,” said Dr Durcan. “You should be able to access timely care.”
Meanwhile, there were 7,392 admitted patients forced to wait on trolleys for a hospital bed in June, according to the latest monthly analysis from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO). The total is 7% higher compared to last year.
Last Tuesday, there were 482 patients on trolleys, the highest total for any day in June since records began and 49% higher than the same day last year.
The worst affected hospitals in June were Cork University Hospital, with 834 patients on trolleys and University Hospital Limerick, with 833 patients on trolleys.
INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said this summer was a bad as winter was five years ago.
“Understaffing is driving year-round unsafe conditions,” she said.