The number of children waiting over 18 months for an outpatient consultation has broken the 10,000 threshold. The latest figures for May reveal that the list has soared to 10,295 – up from 833 in May 2016. That’s twelvefold increase in two years.
An analysis of the latest waiting figures published by the National Treatment Purchase Fund for May shows that overall some 54,308 children are waiting for an appointment – 17,308 of them for more than a year and 10,295 for over 18 months.
Fianna Fáil Children Spokesperson Anne Rabbitte has expressed concern at the rapid pace of the increases, particularly in the three Dublin hospitals.
“The three children’s hospitals in Dublin account for about 80% of the total number of children on the waiting list, but they also account for almost 99% of the children waiting more than 18 months for an appointment. Temple Street has seen a sixteen fold increase in the number of children waiting over a year and a half to see a doctor in the past 2 years, with Crumlin recording only a marginally smaller rise”, said Deputy Rabbitte.
“I have said it before but it cannot be emphasised enough – these unacceptably long waiting times have a significant impact on outcomes and on the stress and anxiety levels of the children themselves.
“Eighteen months can seem like an infinite amount of time to a child, and having to wait that long to see a doctor in a hospital is like a cloud hanging over their head.
“I understand that a draft Outpatient Action Plan for 2018 has been presented to Minister Harris. The fact that an action plan for 2018 is still in draft form in the middle of June is appalling. He must publish it now as a matter of urgency and priority should be given to the 10,000 children waiting since November 2016”.