LIMERICK Sinn Féin TD, Maurice Quinlivan, has called on the government to address the major backlog in gynaecological appointments. Figures obtained show that 4,000 women have been waiting over 18 months for an appointment, of which 314 are at Limerick University Hospital.
Speaking today, Deputy Quinlivan said:
“This data is extremely concerning and illustrates the continued backlog of necessary appointments as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and understaffing.
“The average waiting time for a gynaecological appointment at UHL in 2020 is 211 days. This is extremely concerning for the women. However, most worrying of all, 314 women have been waiting over 18 months. This delay is not just concerning but is outright dangerous.”
“This is at a time when we have the breast check backlog, the cervical smear test backlog and staffing and capacity shortages. Women need assurance that their health needs will be met. I am urging the Minister for Health to recognise the importance of intervention on this issue.”
The Sinn Féin TD continued:
“Most of these delays, but not all, were caused by the curtailment of services due to Covid. This is understandably unavoidable to a certain extent. That said, I have a real concern that we have a perfect storm brewing for a crisis in women’s health which has been exacerbated by a failure to invest and this further adds to the risk.
“Whatever resources are needed should be immediately put in place to avert this potential crisis before it is too late.
“A year without seeing a gynaecologist could be a year of living with an undetected problem as well as a year of serious anxiety for many. The HSE needs more resources and support to deal with the number of patients they have and the backlog present in gynaecological care, among pressures on staff and additional social distancing measures.
“We are approaching International Women’s Day and we will hear a lot of people praising the women in their lives, the achievements of women throughout our country and its history and rightly so. However, this will all ring hollow if we continue to ignore the serious shortfalls in their healthcare.
“I am urging Minister Donnelly to take urgent steps now to give the HSE the resources, investment and support required to ensure this backlog is cleared and women can receive medical treatment in a timely way.”