6 October 2017
By Elaine Murphy
“A new list comprising nearly 1,900 Cork children and teenagers who are waiting for an ophthalmological appointment longer than 12 months is yet another example of the HSE’s and Government’s inability to keep up with clear clinical demand for treatment,” said the Fianna Fáil TD for Cork North Central, Billy Kelleher.
The Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson was responding to new figures provided to him by the HSE that show that 1,866 children and teenagers, aged between five and 17 years of age, are waiting longer than 12 months for an appointment to see an ophthalmologist.
“This is yet more proof of a health service that simply doesn’t have the capacity to treat the people it should be treating.
“What these figures represent is a failure of planning and resourcing.
“The North Lee area is one of the most affected areas in the country with nearly 39% of all those in this age bracket waiting longer than 12 months. It is simply unacceptable that the sight of so many young people should be put at risk with such long waiting times.
“Cork and Kerry are acutely affected as the two counties alone make up 45% of the number of child and teen long waiters with 2142 on the list for more than a year.
“This is yet another waiting list in our health service that requires urgent action to reduce waiting times.
Deputy Kelleher also pointed out that this is not the full extent of the story on ophthalmology waiting lists.
“These are just the numbers waiting for a primary care appointment. The August hospital waiting time figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund show that some 37,402 are waiting for an outpatient appointment with an ophthalmologist with 11,275 waiting over a year. More than 13,000 also need operations and some 3,600 of them are also waiting a year plus.
“A consultant ophthalmic surgeon at the Mater Hospital earlier this year called those NTPF waiting list figures a ‘hidden scandal’. The fact that there is also another list in primary care, with a further 28,000 on it, compounds that scandal.
“What is Minister Harris going to do about these growing lists? The Government has been silent for far too long,” concluded Kelleher.