Hundreds of Donegal patients are being failed by the HSE 2013 Outpatient Waiting List Initiative according to Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal Charlie McConalogue. The scheme, which sees public patients treated in private hospitals, was set up in an effort to alleviate waiting times but is failing miserably.

Figures released recently to Deputy McConalogue by the HSE reveal that at the end of 2013, Letterkenny General Hospital outsourced the treatment of 2,722 patients under the programme.  919 of these patients were seen and discharged back to GP care with no further intervention required, 300 patients underwent diagnostic investigation and 190 children have had surgery under the scheme.

However one year on, more than 1,313 patients who were outsourced are still waiting on follow-up treatment. 653 patients require diagnostic intervention and are awaiting further tests to be scheduled by the treating hospitals, 523 are waiting for surgery and 110 patients require further outpatient review.

Deputy McConalogue commented, “The HSE has confirmed that out of 550 patients who were outsourced to a private hospital and who were approved for surgery, only 27 have had their operations carried out. The 523 surgery patients together with the 110 patients requiring further outpatient review are in limbo as they are not on a confirmed list at any hospital. They’re being forced to wait for a referral to the private sector or return to the Saolta University Health Care Group (formerly West/North West Hospital Group).

“What is the Minister’s plan for these patients? Will they have their surgery performed before the end of the year under the original consultant they were referred to as part of the 2013 outpatient waiting list initiative? All of these patients have been waiting well over the 8 month target for their procedures and it is only right that they should be treated immediately.

“Minister Varadkar has previously conceded that hospital waiting lists will get worse before they get better. Is this because he knows that all the patients who were outsourced at the back end of last year and who have not had their treatment will be absorbed back on to the waiting lists of their original hospital group?

“We are now faced with the real possibility that the 523 patients in limbo since 2013 and who have been abandoned by Minister Varadkar and his Department in a bid to keep up the pretence that the Government is tackling the waiting lists crisis will have to join the 3,003 people currently on the waiting list for general surgery at Letterkenny General Hospital. This is a completely unacceptable situation.

“The information which I have now received from the HSE concerning the outsourcing of patients last year at Letterkenny General Hospital further illustrates the extent of the waiting list crisis. The situation is becoming untenable and the Minister needs to step in and make funding available to sort it out.

“It is essential that the Minister and the HSE comes up with a workable service plan for 2015 because the current situation is failing people in Letterkenny and is undermining patient safety. It is unacceptable to allow these already exorbitant waiting lists to continue to increase, and a conscious effort must be made to ensure that proper resources and budgets are allocated to Letterkenny General so that these waiting lists can be effectively targeted”.