Cancer patients seen at more advanced stage than anywhere in Western Europe  — IHCA

Call for multi annual budgeting to address deficit in acute bed capacity

Prof. Rob Landers, Vice President, IHCA

Concerns that patients are presenting with more advanced symptoms for the past number of years in Irish hospitals, and more so than they would be anywhere else in Western Europe in particular, are being highlighted by Irish Consultant Hospitals Association (IHCA) Vice President, Prof. Rob Landers.

He said it was a particular concern for those who attended for cancer resections at a later stage of progression of the disease.

“This is because people are waiting longer for operations and therefore are waiting longer to start follow on treatments like chemotherapy. This simply should not be the case,” said Prof. Landers, Consultant Histopathologist.

His remarks come as the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) called for Government and the Health Service Executive (HSE) to expedite the publication of plans to tackle Ireland’s escalating acute hospital waiting lists.

The IHCA called for multi-annual budgeting from the Department of Health and to bring together a plan to sort this problem out once and for all.

“Over the last decade, the situation has progressively deteriorated to a point where we are now in an absolute crisis. The Government and health service must stop hiding behind the pandemic and cyberattack as the main reasons for our growing waiting lists,” added Prof. Landers.

The IHCA said that consultants now feared that the next National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) figures, expected to be published this month, could show significant increases across all waiting lists — anticipating the overall number of people waiting to be around 900,000 — taking Ireland’s health system ‘over the cliff edge’ and tumbling into another healthcare crisis.

In addition, due to insufficient consultant staffing and vacancies, the IHCA stated that a further 286,000 people were waiting on public hospital outpatient lists to be assessed by a consultant compared with May 2014, an increase of 84 per cent.

Prof. Landers said that we needed to invest very heavily in our health service. “We have the lowest number of acute hospital beds and lowest number of consultants per population in Western Europe.

“We also have to put in place proper conditions for hospital consultants and make posts in this country attractive to bring the very best of our graduates abroad back and providing healthcare to their own Irish public patients.

The IHCA has based its statement today on the last available online NTPF figures of May 2021 with publication of waiting list statistics disrupted by the cyber attack in June and July this year.

Since then, the HSE reported a significant rise in outpatient waiting list figures of 647,000 nationally at the end of July.

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