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The Coombe

Doctors have stated that the lack of consultants in Irish hospitals is having a "serious effect" on Irish women's healthcare.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) have released figures showing 28,417 women are currently waiting to see a gynaecologist in Ireland.

5,394 women are waiting over 12 months, and there has been a 40 percent increase since 2014 in the number of women waiting to see a consultant gynaecologist nationally.

Gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Peter Boylan has stated to the Irish Mirror that the problem could be seriously detrimental to Irish women's health.

"Unfilled specialist posts are making it difficult for women to be seen in a timely fashion," he said.

"Our waiting lists for outpatients are among the worst in the world… and that's having a really serious effect on women's health and well-being." 

3,469 women are waiting for the Rotunda Hospital to offer them an appointment with a gynaecologist. 3,148 women are waiting in Tallaght Hospital, and 2,099 are waiting for the Coombe Hospital in Dublin.

Galway University Hospital has 1,898 women waiting, with 1,783 in Letterkenny General Hospital, 1,522 in Portlaoise Hospital and 1,468 in Limerick University Hospital.

The consultant recruitment and retention crisis is a big factor in rising numbers of Irish women now waiting, according to the IHCA.

One-in-five or over 500 of all permanent consultant posts nationally are now empty or only temporarily filled, leading to long periods of wait times to access essential healthcare services.

The IHCA claim that the Government's consistent support for a "failed policy" is resulting in "the unique and extremely damaging" salary cut which consultants appointed since 2012 have been served.

New consultants are being paid up to 51 percent less than their colleagues, despite having some of the same job responsibilities.

Pay parity needs to be restored for new consultants, rather than driving them abroad to countries like Australia who will pay them accordingly.

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Almost 30,000 people across Ireland are on a waiting list to see a gynaecologist for an outpatient appointment, consultants have warned. This is a massive increase of 43 percent since 2014.

The #CareCantWait campaign from the Irish Hospital Consultant Association (IHCA) has been launched today, warning of the hazardous consequences of lengthy wait times on patients.

The campaign is also calling on the Government to address the problem of consultant shortages with speed and empathy.

Currently, one-in-five permanent consultant posts in Ireland's HSE are unfilled or else filled by temporary appointments. As a nation, we have the lowest amount of consultants working in the health service in the EU.

There's no doubt that this shortage is having an influence on the long waiting times and stark lack of access to essential services, according to the IHCA.

Ireland has the third-highest fertility rate in the EU, but the State has less than half of the EU average amount of specialists working in obstetrics and gynaecology.

Dr. Rhona Mahony, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and director of women’s health for the Ireland East Hospital Group has spoken out in a series of videos expressing her concerns.

She described the number of women waiting for gynaecological outpatient appointments as “distressing”, adding that Ireland has the lowest number of consultants in the OECD.

Dr Mahony emphasised that waiting lists have a "huge impact on quality of life", and claimed that many "simple procedures can change lives and radically improve a patient’s quality of life." 

"Not to be able to offer that to patients, in a country like Ireland, is really quite distressing, mainly for patients but also for those charged with giving care," she stressed.

Shockingly, 29,152 people who identify as women are waiting for a gynaecological outpatient appointment with a consultant at a public hospital in Ireland.

The highest numbers of people awaiting care are at Dublin hospitals, with 3,828 women waiting for an appointment at the Rotunda, 3,130 waiting at Tallaght and 2,542 waiting at the Coombe.

In Cork, 1,553 women are waiting to be seen at Cork University Hospital, and 1,184 are waiting at Limerick University Hospital. 1,467 women are waiting at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise and 1,385 are waiting in Mullingar.

Galway University Hospital has 1,882 women waiting for an outpatient appointment while Letterkenny has 1,773. Lastly, Cavan is seeing 1,142 waiting for care.

Waiting list figures from the end of May show over 556,000 patients waiting to see a consultant for an outpatient appointment, while a further 68,000 who have been assessed are waiting for follow-on treatment.

Irish Hospital Consultant Association has expressed it's worry over the lack of care, saying; “Tens of thousands of these patients are waiting long periods, often several years, to obtain an outpatient appointment."

HCA vice president and consultant rheumatologist Laura Durcan said consultants felt the need to to go public about the situation to inform the nation;

“None of this is okay,” said Dr Durcan. “You should be able to access timely care.”

7,392 admitted patients have been forced to wait on trolleys for a hospital bed in June, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO). This amount is seven percent higher than last year.

There were 482 patients on trolleys last Tuesday, which marks the highest total for any June day since records started, and is 49 percent higher than the same date of last year.

Phil Ní Sheaghdha, INMO general secretary, claims that this summer is as dire as the winter of five years ago; “Understaffing is driving year-round unsafe conditions,” she said

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