This weekend saw reports that in March there was a 14% increase in the number of patients who spent time on trolleys compared to February figures. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) released its trolley watch report and the figures showed that on average last month there were 1,054 patients waiting on a trolley in University Hospital Limerick; 870 in Cork University Hospital; 722 in University Hospital Galway; 520 in South Tipperary General Hospital and 483 in Sligo University Hospital. In total, almost 10,000 people had to spend time waiting on trolleys during March. Deputy Broughan continues to ask questions of the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, on various aspects of our health service, including waiting times for certain specialities.
Recently, Deputy Broughan asked the Minister for Health to report on the number of people on waiting lists to see a consultant neurologist in Beaumont Hospital, with information on the length of time people have been waiting. Deputy Broughan received a direct response from Beaumont Hospital which said that the average waiting time to see a consultant neurologist is 7 months. As of the end of January this year, 422 people had been waiting less than 3 months, 395 had been waiting between 3 to 6 months, 221 had been waiting between 6 to 9 months, and 173 had been waiting 9 to 12 months. Of the 1497 people on waiting lists this year, 286 of those had been waiting for more than a year. 134 had been waiting for between 12 and 15 months, 117 had been waiting for 15 to 18 months, 28 had been waiting for 18 to 21 months, 4 had been waiting for 21 to 24 months and 3 had been waiting for more than 2 years.
The reply states that the measures that are being taken to reduce waiting times this year include new clinic structures, expanding the Epilepsy Advanced Nurse Practitioner service, a collaborative approach by the consultants for the patients who have been waiting longer and transferring the referrals from Drogheda to the Our Lady of Lourdes Drogheda Neurology Service.
Deputy Broughan says “It is a disgrace that people are waiting an average of 7 months to see a consultant neurologist and that 134 people are waiting for over a year. It is shocking that almost 10,000 people were on trolleys during March. After 8 years, Fine Gael is unable to get a handle on the health service and is bad for our nation’s health. We need a general election soon.”