by Bernie English
ALMOST 11,000 patients are on a waiting list for orthopaedic out-patient assessment in Limerick and 5.600 of them have waited more than four years for an appointment.
Figures just released by the HSE show that as of October 2012, there were 4,148 people waiting more than four years for appointments at Croom orthopaedic hospital and 1,473 waiting to be seen at the Mid West Regional hospital in Dooradoyle.
The total number on the orthopedic waiting list on that date was 10,970 and the HSE West says that this figure has now been reduced to 7,477 overall.
The numbers are huge in comparison to other hospitals such as Cork University Hospital, where 602 patients are waiting four years or more.
The Limerick branch of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said the figures show up the scandal of “care based on ability to pay, not need”.
The statistics are contained in the latest hospital performance records from the HSE and Health Minister James Reilly has said he wants no patients to be waiting more than a year for an outpatient consultation by the end of 2013.
This week, HSE West bosses pledged that they will be working to reduce numbers and have no patient waiting longer than 12 months by October.
INMO representative Mary Fogarty described the numbers as “shocking. The compromise that is involved in people’s lives to have to wait four years for an orthopaedic condition to be assessed is unimaginable and totally unacceptable. No private patient would wait that long. This is care based on ability to pay, not need”.
In statement, the HSE West said that along with hospitals nationwide, they are validating their waiting lists to see which patients still need appointments and they are making use of texts as well as writing to eliminate patients who have gone private or don’t require appointments anymore.
“Unfortunately, this region has a very long waiting list for orthopaedic outpatient services which stood at 10,970 as of October, 2012. The current figure as of May 1 is 7,477 and we expect to make significant improvements by the end of the month.
“It is our objective to have the entire list validated by the end of May and to have no patient waiting longer than 12 months by the end of November for an out-patient orthopaedic appointment”.
The HSE appointed one clinical specialist physiotherapist in September to assess patients on the orthopaedic waiting list.