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Hospital care for children a ‘ticking time bomb’- IHCA President

Children’s hospital care has been called a “ticking time bomb” by the IHCA President, Professor Alan Irvine.

The Association warned that over 200 additional consultants are needed within the next seven years, while over 97,000 children are now on hospital waiting lists across the country. The IHCA added that 38,600 children “are waiting over 12 months for care, with 29,000 waiting more than 18 months”.

The Association’s President added that “recruitment of additional paediatric consultants” should be “a priority now”.

“Conditions which could have been reversed or mitigated against are deteriorating,” said Prof Irvine who is a Consultant Dermatologist at CHI at Crumlin and at St James’s Hospital, Dublin and is Professor of Dermatology in TCD.

“We’re facing a ticking time bomb of children suffering health and developmental issues due to delays in accessing care.”

The IHCA said its “call comes after successive weeks of cancelled and postponed operations across the three Dublin paediatric hospitals that make up Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) due to an earlier than expected winter surge in Emergence Department (ED) presentations of children with seasonal respiratory illness”.

Ms Mary Bresnihan, a Consultant ENT surgeon at Sligo University Hospital, said: “In ENT, some of the longest lists are for procedures like tonsillectomies, where surgery could be managed through day-case procedures. But we face challenges even getting to see and assess the patient in the first place. When we do, and we schedule treatment, patients can unfortunately be at the mercy of emergency or other priorities taking theatre slots at the last minute.

“In the meantime, children of all ages are missing a lot of school due to being off sick regularly with tonsillitis or other infections meaning their education is set back. Some children are not able to hear properly and this can his affect their overall development – and yet these are problems that are quick and straightforward to resolve given adequate resources. This is a tragedy for those patients and should not happen.”

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