Some of the largest waiting lists at Tullamore hospital in the country

Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore has some of the longest waiting lists in the country, new figures show.

These include the fourth largest waiting list for outpatient ENT (ear, nose and throat) (5,408) and the fifth largest waiting list for outpatient orthopedic (5,940) nationally.

The survey also found that a third of patients at the three Midlands hospitals in Tullamore, Portlaoise and Mullingar wait more than a year for treatment.

A total of 35,500 people in the Midlands are waiting to be seen or treated by a consultant at public acute care hospitals in the region.

Gynecology, general surgery and orthopedics represent 75% of people awaiting hospitalization / day hospitalization; One in four approved permanent hospital consultant positions in the Midlands are not staffed as needed, causing delays in providing timely patient care.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA), which conducted the survey, warned of excessively long waits for patients in the Midlands before being treated or assessed by a consultant at public acute care hospitals in the region .

IHCA President Professor Alan Irvine said: “Each of the 35,539 people in the Midlands awaiting treatment at a public hospital represents a person and family seeking health care, often in pain. pain, suffering and psychological distress of not knowing when they will be able to receive treatment. The government must act urgently to resolve the recruitment and retention crisis for consultants to facilitate the care these patients desperately need. “

Although Tullamore has the highest wait lists of the three Midland hospitals, they have only increased by eight percent since 2015.

This compares to a doubling of waiting lists in Portlaoise and a 65% increase in Mullingar.

In the three public hospitals of Mullingar, Portlaoise and Tullamore, there are more than 35,000 people on the waiting lists for an outpatient appointment, outpatient or outpatient treatment, or gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy. More than a third of these people (12,800) have been waiting for more than a year. *

In the counties of Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath, 9,400 more people are now awaiting public hospital care compared to November 2015, an increase of 36 pc.

People who have to wait a long time for procedures such as hip or knee surgery often face increased pain, while delays in the ENT assessment may present special concerns about the risk of a possible delay in cancer diagnosis.

Across the region, the number of patients waiting more than 12 months for inpatient / outpatient treatment has more than quadrupled (+ 432pc) over the past six years, with a dramatic 57-fold increase in these ‘wait lengths’. »To the MRH Portlaoise.

The three specialties of gynecology (704 patients), general surgery (698 patients) and orthopedics (618 patients) together represent three quarters (75%) of the total number of people awaiting hospitalization / day hospitalization in the Midlands.

Since 2015, there are now more than 500 additional women awaiting a gynecological intervention through the MRH Mullingar and the MRH Portlaoise.

Ireland has the lowest number of specialist physicians per 1,000 population in Europe at 1.48, 42% below the EU average of 2.54. The IHCA says the severe shortage of consultants in the Midlands is the main contributor to unacceptable delays in providing patient care. Across the region, 41 (25%) of the 165 approved consultant positions were vacant or filled on a temporary or interim basis (as of May 2021), with this percentage rising to 30% at HRM Mullingar.

A report released last week by the Medical Council revealed the gravity of the consultant recruitment and retention crisis. According to the report, 44% of specialist trainees intend to go abroad to practice medicine, meaning that at a time when there is a dire need for more consultants and doctors, the system Irish health is losing them.

Commenting on the waiting lists, IHCA President Professor Alan Irvine said: “With a quarter of all consultant positions approved in the Midlands vacant or temporarily filled, the people of Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath are forced to wait much longer. than they should for the essential hospital care they need.

“Each of the 35,539 people in the Midlands awaiting assessment and treatment at a public hospital represents an individual and family seeking health care, often facing the pain, suffering and psychological distress of not know when they can receive them.

“The government must keep its promise to provide the extra beds, additional consultants and additional facilities much needed to meet the health needs of all those currently awaiting care in Midlands hospitals.

“The severe shortage of consultants in the region is the main cause of the unacceptable delays in providing patient care. The government must act urgently to resolve the recruitment and retention crisis for consultants in order to alleviate this distress and facilitate the care these patients desperately need.

“Most importantly, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly must keep his ‘unambiguous commitment’ to address the issue of pay inequity for all consultants hired since 2012. It is the most practical solution that will ensure that care is provided. timely delivery is provided not only to the thousands of people awaiting treatment in the Midlands, but to the 897,000 people awaiting hospital care across the country. “

Toya J. Bell