Almost 70,000 patients removed from waiting list without seeing a doctor

Validation exercise branded ‘cynical political ploy’ by GPs

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Stephen Donnelly: “Clearly, if people no longer need the appointment then they should not be on the list but they should not be removed simply because the GP hasn’t had time to reply speedily.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Stephen Donnelly: “Clearly, if people no longer need the appointment then they should not be on the list but they should not be removed simply because the GP hasn’t had time to reply speedily.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Nearly 70,000 patients have been removed from waiting lists this year without ever having seen a consultant, it has emerged.

The 69,836 patients were taken off the outpatient waiting lists as part of a “validation exercise” after staff checked to see if they were “ready, willing, suitable and available” to attend, or whether they wish to be removed.

However, Fianna Fáil health spokesman Stephen Donnelly, who obtained the figures, said some GPs regard the removal of names from the list as “an exercise in manipulation”.

“Clearly, if people no longer need the appointment then they should not be on the list but they should not be removed simply because the GP hasn’t had time to reply speedily.”

Mr Donnelly said there have been reports of doctors being swamped with 100 letters a week as part of validation exercises.

The number of names removed from the list was more than 10 per cent of the overall numbers of 500,000, he pointed out.

Mr Harris said the processes allows for situations where patients can be reinstated back to their original place on the list if requested by the GP.

The largest number of names removed was in the South/South-West Hospital Group, which trimmed its outpatient list by over 22,000.

A new centralised unit for validating hospital waiting lists was set up within the National Treatment Purchase Fund in September. Mr Harris said this unit will apply a standardised approach to the process.

The National Association of GPs has branded the validation exercise “a disgrace” and a “cynical political ploy” designed to make waiting lists look smaller .