IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine said new waiting list figures released by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) are “only likely to worsen” in the short-term as a result of the Covid-19 surge.
The figures show that 838,675 people are on some form of waiting list with 606,230 of these waiting for an appointment to see a hospital consultant.
“Regrettably, these numbers will only likely worsen in the short-term as a result of the current Covid-19 surge,” Prof Irvine said in a statement.
“As the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) acknowledged yesterday, it will be some time before our hospitals can return to anything like normal. The impact of the current surge and the unavoidable requirement to delay non-urgent care appointments will be particularly felt in the second half of the year.
“It is difficult in the grip of the current crisis to forward plan but we simply must.
“We are now playing catch-up in 2021. Our ability to do so hinges on a range of factors, from crushing the curve and vaccination rollout, but crucially too an ability to forward plan. Personal behaviours, the Winter Plan, and the hard work of many will get us through the immediate period. But as we wade through the debris left by the current surge, a re-set in healthcare planning will now be necessary if our healthcare system is to sustain through the second half of 2021.
“Carving out time for collaborative forward planning is key, no matter how difficult such a task may now appear.”