A chronic lack of medical consultants

Waiting lists and elective-care backlogs

Sir, – I read with interest the article “Hospital backlog could take 15 years to clear” (News, August 30th). It states, unsurprisingly, that bed capacity and medical expertise remain in short supply and highlights that waiting lists have grown by 31 per cent since 2017.

As far back as September 2015, The Irish Times highlighted the migration of Irish medical graduates due to a lack of consultant positions in the HSE.

There remains a chronic lack of consultants in many specialities in the HSE. On August 19th, you reported that emergency department consultant numbers were to be boosted to tackle winter pressures. While laudable as a means of increasing the throughput of patients in busy departments, it will do little to tackle the lack of beds in an under-resourced system nor will it decrease the amount of patients requiring admission for specific urgent treatments.

Simply increasing the personnel in an effort to put “boots on the ground” in emergency departments will do little to improve waiting lists and elective-care backlogs unless matched by increased resources and consultant numbers in all specialities.


In the post-Covid era, which has bought unprecedented demand for urgent and elective services, huge backlogs to cancer care and changes to healthcare delivery, in both primary and secondary settings, the appointment of consultants, with a properly resourced service, should now be prioritised at a national level to clear the backlogs. – Yours, etc,


Liverpool, UK.