THE number of people on the waiting list for Limerick’ s two city hospitals equals almost half the entire population of the city itself.
That’s according to the the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) who say that a person’s access to care “is little short of a postcode lottery”.
According to the IHCA, there are more than 47,500 patients waiting for a hospital outpatient appointment in either the University Hospital Limerick (UHL) or St John’s Hospital.
That amounts to 42 per cent per 100,000 of the 94,000 people living in the Dáil constituency of Limerick City.
It’s also the second highest waiting list in the country behind Cork.
IHCA President Prof Alan Irvine said: “These shocking figures should be a wake-up call to Government to urgently address the twin deficits of a shortage of consultants and a lack of sufficient public hospital capacity to resolve the record waiting lists we continue to experience.
“A patient’s access to care should not depend on where they live. The Government needs to address this ‘postcode lottery’ and realise that any waiting list plan which does not simultaneously address the Consultant recruitment and retention crisis is destined to fail. Our patients deserve better.”
The new analysis from the IHCA reveals wide disparities between outpatient waiting lists at different hospitals, when examined on a population basis.
Nationally, around one in eight people are currently on a hospital outpatient waiting list. However, new analysis by the IHCA suggests this can be a much higher rate in some areas, as consultants warn that timely access to healthcare should not be determined by a person’s address.
The warning comes as the latest National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) figures released this week confirm there are 893,043 people on some form of hospital waiting list nationally, including 97,954 children. This is an increase of 30,323 in the past year.