Irish Medical Organisation

Unacceptable waiting times for patients -IMO

Press Release: 7th June 2012


Adequate financial and manpower resources must be provided to cope with the throughput of patients
The failure to implement appropriate health policy by successive Governments, poorly organised services and inadequate manpower capacity have led to the unacceptable waiting times for our patients, said IMO Consultant Chairman, Dr. Trevor Duffy.
Responding to the most recent figures released by the Special Delivery Unit on patient waiting times, Dr. Duffy said; 
“The IMO acknowledges that the Special Delivery Unit is doing a good job in bringing focus on numbers of patients rather than on hospital budgets.  However, previous and current Governments have continued to ignore the main issue, which is a ‘capacity gap’.  One example of this is Orthopaedic Surgery – one of the specialities highlighted as having the longest waiting times. Ireland has one Specialist Surgeon for every 54,000 people.  Elsewhere in Europe that figure is four times higher with one Specialist Surgeon for every 15,000 people.”
He said; “We need to run services efficiently and the HSE Clinical Programmes are clearly making efforts to address this, however this capacity gap must also be addressed if we are to see an end to patients waiting years to be seen and more years for their procedure.  For the Special Delivery Unit to succeed, hospital capacity must reflect demand and adequate financial and manpower resources must be provided to cope with the throughput of patients.”
The Irish Medical Organisation’s Consultant Committee have campaigned vigorously over many years in an effort to highlight initiatives with Ministers for Health to tackle unacceptable waiting times for patients. As far back as 2001 the IMO Consultant Committee called on the Minister for Health and the HSE to cease the practice of presenting competing targets to hospitals that include demands for reduced expenditure and containment of activity while insisting on reducing waiting lists.  Most recently in 2011 they highlighted the critical shortage of consultants in a wide range of specialities and the consequential impact on the health of the population.
Former IMO President, Prof. Sean Tierney, Consultant Surgeon said; “Since 2007, employment in the health services has fallen by 6,654 and yet activity levels have been sustained and even increased in some areas despite the staff reduction, indicating that more is being done with less.  It must be acknowledged that our population has increased, people live longer and more illnesses can be treated due to medical science evolving.  We are therefore treating ‘more’ patients with ‘less’ – we are effectively ‘victims of our own success’.
“However, for those reliant on the public health system, access to hospital care is becoming increasingly more difficult.  We must ensure that no further hospital beds are closed until alternative services are in place, protect funding for hospital services and prioritise the recruitment of essential frontline staff,” said Prof. Tierney.
For further information contact:
Maria Murphy
Director of Communications &
Public Affairs
Irish Medical Organisation
Tel. 01 6767 273

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