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Over 19,000 children waiting more than 12 months to see specialist

There are currently 47,255 children across Ireland waiting to see a paediatrician for an outpatient appointment in the three children’s hospitals that comprise Children’s Health Ireland, restricting their access to the timely medical care they deserve, according to the IHCA.

Of this figure, 7,988 children are waiting to see a paediatric ENT specialist; 5,165 children are waiting to see a paediatric cardiologist; 3,735 children are waiting to see a paediatric orthopaedic specialist; and 1,989 children are waiting to see a paediatric surgeon. Over 19,000 children are waiting more than 12 months to see specialist

There has been an increase of 14,965 children in the last 36 months in the number waiting to see a paediatrician for an outpatient appointment.

The IHCA, through its #CARECANTWAIT campaign, is highlighting how the “consultant recruitment crisis is having a detrimental effect on the Irish public health service system in terms of waiting times, timely treatment and patient safety”.

It says one-in-five permanent consultant posts in our public health service are either unfilled or filled by temporary appointments.

The IHCA has today released a new video with Prof Alf Nicholson, RCSI Professor of Paediatrics and Consultant Paediatrician at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, discussing the effect of long wait times on infants and children. 

“It’s very unacceptable to have a waiting time of anything other than three to six months, at most, for a young child or infant to see a specialist. Sadly, at the moment our wait times are well above that, and that is very distressing to be a part of.”

Children’s Health Ireland, which collects data and records from Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, Temple Street Children’s University Hospital and National Children’s Hospital at Tallaght University Hospital, has also confirmed that the new Paediatric Outpatient and Urgent Care Centre at Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, which has cost €25 million, will now only open on a phased basis because of “vacancies in consultant posts”.

In its statement, Children’s Health Ireland added; “There are recruitment challenges nationally and internationally in certain specialities such as paediatric radiology and paediatric emergency medicine.”

A recent Medical Council report found that over the period 2015 to 2017, more than 700 specialists either left Ireland to work abroad or left the profession.

Prof Nicholson concluded: “The effects that long waiting lists have on patients is significant…..it is solvable if we bring in new specialists. Specialists that should already be a part the health service system.”

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