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Patients on ‘referral roundabout’ as consultants unavailable

The call comes as the HSE has been unable to appoint a permanent or locum consultant dermatologist at Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar, since the end of last year.

Since the start of February, the hospital cannot accept referrals from GPs for dermatology appointments following the resignation of its consultant dermatologist. GPs have been advised not to refer patients to the hospital.

Laois GP Dr Sumi Dunne raised concern about where GPs could refer dermatology patients to in the absence of a service in Mullingar.

She told the Medical Independent (MI) that reverting back to the GP to say referrals are not accepted is “untenable”.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Ireland East Hospital Group said the hospital has been “actively looking for a replacement dermatologist since the end of last year to replace the position vacated in February 2018”.

“There is currently no locum dermatologist available. A permanent post has been submitted to the Consultant Appointments Advisory Committee (CAAC) — HSE. GPs have been advised of this situation and have been asked to refer patients to other consultant dermatologists,” the spokesperson added.

IMO GP Chairman Dr Pádraig McGarry said he has received similar letters “with no realistic chance of referral to another area”. He added that this places patients on a “referral roundabout”.

Meanwhile, Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore, has come under fire for its waiting times for ENT services, which are now at over 160 weeks.

Offaly GP Dr Muireann Leonard raised the issue on Twitter, while also highlighting that waiting times for a child with strabismus are now 123 weeks in Tullamore.

Dr Leonard called on Minister for Health Simon Harris to resolve the issue, while other GPs highlighted similar concerns.

The waiting time for routine gynaecology appointments at the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital is now 52 weeks due to increased demand for gynaecology services at the hospital, GP Dr William Lynch has stated.

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