HSE figs 'confirm patients are suffering'
The latest waiting list figures released by the HSE ‘categorically confirm that patients are suffering as a direct result of inadequate health funding', nurses have insisted.
According to the HSE's own performance report for July, over 54,000 people are on a waiting list for an inpatient or day case procedure. Over 5,000 of these are children.
Meanwhile, over 360,000 people are waiting to be seen in outpatient clinics.
The performance report also notes that a number of hospitals are running seriously over budget, including University Hospital Limerick, which was €17 million over budget by the end of July, Waterford Regional Hospital (€8.9 million over), St Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin (€8.5 million) and the Mater Hospital in Dublin (€7.7 million over).
The HSE also expects to be €510 million over budget by the end of 2014.
Commenting on the figures, it said that it is ‘continuing to experience a significant increase in demand for its services which is reflected in an upward trend reported in waiting lists for July 2014'.
It insisted that ‘work is ongoing' on a number of ‘service improvement initiatives' across all hospitals. However, it admitted that despite this, it still faces ‘significant challenges' in the area of waiting lists.
"Referrals to outpatients have increased by over 10% compared to 2013 resulting in an additional 6,000 referrals each month compared to the same period 2013. In addition, emergency admissions to hospitals have increased by 3% placing additional pressure on hospital capacity.
"There are almost 700 patients awaiting discharge in hospitals and a coordinated approach between Acute and Social Care Divisions is underway to reduce the number of people awaiting placements to nursing homes or home, depending on personal requirement," it said.
Responding to the figures, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said that patient care ‘is undoubtedly being compromised as a direct result of cuts to health funding which has led to bed closures, a reduction in elective admissions and inadequate staffing in all clinical areas'.
It called for the Government to immediately bring forward a supplementary health budget to allow hospitals to deal with this issue.
"Everyone must now accept, as we enter the winter period, that the health service is no longer capable of meeting speedily, and in a quality assured way, the demands being placed upon it. Action is now required," commented INMO general secretary, Liam Doran.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Leo Varadkar said that while he is hopeful that waiting lists will have improved by this time next year, ‘they won't improve in the next few months'.
[Posted: Wed 24/09/2014]