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A 435 per cent volume increase in the number of patients waiting over 12 months for inpatient/day case treatment was noted at Beaumont Hospital’s executive management group meeting on 26 August last.
The figure reflected an exponential increase from December 2019 to July 2020. In addition, the meeting minutes referred to a 241 per cent increase in the number of gastrointestinal (GI) patients on the endoscopy waiting list from December to July.
Elective inpatient admissions at Beaumont and St Joseph’s Hospital, Raheny, had declined by 15.8 per cent in the year to July 2020, with the minutes noting “reduced March activity reflects Covid-19 pandemic consequences”.
According to National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) data for October, there were 1,046 people waiting over 12 months for an appointment date for their inpatient/day case treatment at Beaumont.
This compared with 229 people at the beginning of 2020. A rise in waiting times is reflected across the acute hospitals system. As of October, some 18,361 people were waiting over 12 months for an appointment date for their inpatient/day case treatment. This compared with 9,710 people in January 2020.
Asked about Beaumont’s access to private hospitals under the Government agreement, a hospital spokesperson said it utilised such facilities from April to June for inpatients (medicine), endoscopy and day cases.
“Less-complex/routine surgeries were also carried out in private hospitals during this period, including emergent surgeries (plastic surgery and orthopaedics). A number of surgical oncology cases were also undertaken in private hospitals during this phase.
“Beaumont Hospital reconfigured multiple services to enable enhanced throughput for inpatients, endoscopy and day cases post the initial phase of the pandemic, which have been maintained to allow enhanced access. Virtual OPD clinics have also been a key component in reducing ‘lost’ activity owing to Covid-19. These actions have enabled some level of patient wait-time restoration,” said a hospital spokesperson in December.
For example, 68.2 per cent of patients were waiting less than eight months for inpatient/day case treatment as of 3 December, compared with 60.5 per cent in August. Some 89.8 per cent of patients were waiting less than 13 weeks for an endoscopy as of 3 December, compared with 54.5 per cent in May.