Over 700 patients have been waiting more than three years to see a consultant at Mayo University Hospital (MUH), it was revealed at the Western Regional Health Forum last week.
Of the 3,334 people waiting over a year to see a specialist, some 606 had been on the list for more than two years, while 754 patients have been waiting over three years.
Chief Operating Officer of the Saolta University Health Care Group, Ann Cosgrove, noted that a “significant percentage” of the patients waiting more than a year are in medical specialties and generally do not require a surgical procedure.
She added that wait times for routine surgery can often be up to two years, explaining that the waiting times for surgery “varies significantly from speciality to specialty” and by the level of urgency.
Patients requiring urology and ENT specialists are referred to University Hospital Galway, she said, adding that Saolta is aware of “significant wait times” for some of these procedures.
Castlebar-based Independent Cllr Michael Kilcoyne, who obtained the figures at the regional forum, said the statistics were “appalling”, adding that they “speak for themselves”.
“Once someone has been referred on by a doctor they need to see someone or their condition could be getting progressively worse,” the Independent Cllr said.
“The pain and the suffering that that waiting is going to cause a person is going to lead to other health problems,” he added.
Nationally, there are almost one million patients waiting to see a hospital consultant, according to the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA).
The organisation also claims that one-fifth of consultant positions, or 500, across the country are either unfilled or only temporarily filled, putting key health care progammes at risk.
According to the IHCA, increased investment in specialist staff is required to address the “record waiting lists” and improve the rationing of care.