Nearly 30,000 women in Ireland waiting to see gynaecologist

Ireland has lowest level in EU of consultants working in the health service, says campaign

There are 3,828 women waiting for an appointment at the Rotunda. Photograph: Alan Betson

There are 3,828 women waiting for an appointment at the Rotunda. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Nearly 30,000 women across Ireland are waiting to see a gynaecologist for an outpatient appointment, an increase of 43 per cent since 2014, consultants have warned.

The #CareCantWait campaign from the Irish Hospital Consultant Association, which is launched today, has warned of the dangerous impact of long waiting times on patients and is calling on the Government to address the issue of consultant shortages with urgency.

At present, one in five permanent consultant posts in the State’s public health service are either unfilled or filled by temporary appointments while Ireland has the lowest level in the EU of consultants working in the health service. This shortage is having an impact on the long waiting times and lack of access to essential services, the association said.

It noted that while Ireland has the third-highest fertility rate in the EU, the State has less than half the EU average number of specialists working in obstetrics and gynaecology.

Speaking in the first of a series of videos, Dr Rhona Mahony, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and director of women’s health for the Ireland East Hospital Group, described the number of women waiting for gynaecological outpatient appointments as “distressing”. She added that Ireland has the lowest number of consultants in the OECD.

Warning that waiting lists have “a huge impact on quality of life”, Dr Mahony underlined that many “simple procedures can change lives and radically improve a patient’s quality of life ... 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.”

National breakdown

A total of 29,152 women are waiting for a gynaecological outpatient appointment with a consultant at a public hospital. The highest numbers waiting for care are attending Dublin hospitals with 3,828 women waiting for an appointment at the Rotunda, 3,130 waiting at Tallaght and 2,542 waiting at the Coombe. In Cork, 1,553 women are waiting to be seen at Cork University Hospital, while 1,184 are waiting at Limerick University Hospital. Some 1,467 women are waiting at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise and 1,385 are waiting in Mullingar.

In Galway University Hospital there are 1,882 women waiting for an outpatient appointment while in Letterkenny there are 1,773 and in Cavan 1,142.

According to waiting list figures from the end of May, more than 556,000 patients are waiting to see a consultant for an outpatient appointment, while a further 68,000 who have been assessed are waiting for follow-on treatment. “Tens of thousands of these patients are waiting long periods, often several years, to obtain an outpatient appointment,” warned the Irish Hospital Consultant Association.