Waiting times at children’s hospital ‘unacceptable’

Understaffing to blame for lengthy delays, says heart consultant

Over 3,000 children are waiting on cardiatric appointments at Crumlin. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/Irish Times

Over 3,000 children are waiting on cardiatric appointments at Crumlin. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/Irish Times

Wed, Jul 31, 2013, 16:40

The length of time some children remain on waiting lists at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin, is “absolutely unacceptable”, according to a consultant paediatric cardiologist who works there.

Some 3,050 children are currently waiting on cardiac outpatient appointments at Crumlin. This morning Dr Orla Franklin said some of her public patients will wait two years for an appointment.

“We recognise that this is an absolutely unacceptable time frame for these children and their worried parents to be waiting,” Dr Franklin told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“The reason for this waiting list is not because our clinics are not running at absolutely full capacity 46 weeks of the year. It is essentially because the volume of referrals is absolutely huge,” she said.

She added that her department was understaffed, saying it should have a dozen or so paediatric cardiologists, but currently has just five.

Dr Franklin said the volume of referral has increased exponentially as parents become alarmed by “the sudden death of children undertaking sporting activities and wish their otherwise healthy children to be screened”.

She said nine out of 10 children referred to the hospital for cardiac reasons have perfectly healthy hearts.

Yesterday it also emerged that 4,200 children are waiting to be seen at outpatient clinics nationwide for eye problems.