Out of the Covid frying pan and into the hospital waiting list fire for many of our older community.
As the vaccine roll out continues, many of our recently inoculated older people now face the prospect of a lengthy wait to see consultants and specialists for other treatable health conditions. The national hospital waiting lists have soared in recent times, with more people waiting to be seen and wait times increasing. Nationally over the past year, there has been a 75% increase in the number of people aged 65 years and older who have already been waiting for at least 12 months, with 78,476 people within our older community in this situation as of the end of March 2021.
These numbers correspond with what my office is currently experiencing with a noticeable increase in older people and their families contacting us extremely worried about delays for treatment of underlying conditions.
Recent data released by the National Treatment Purchase Fund shows just how daunting the situation is with the hospitals of Naas, Portlaoise and Tullamore all showing large increases in numbers of people amongst the 65 plus population waiting at least 12 months for inpatient or outpatient appointments over the past year:
Senator Wall said:
“The optimism for many our older population after receiving the vaccine has quickly been replace with a realisation that they still face uncertainty around getting known health concerns addressed. As one person put it to me, “I waited over a year for this vaccine and now I face the possibility of years going by while waiting for the hip surgery that will allow me to carry on my life without the constant pain I am living with.”
What is really difficult is the thought that somehow the time spent in the pandemic is just getting added on to the long waiting times we experienced prior to the pandemic and the real possibility that our older community is waiting for more than two years for the procedures and treatments the health service already know they need.”
Senator Wall went on to say:
“We really need the government to think outside the box and look at what can be done today to address the capacity issue, by making sure everything has been done to get all departments up and running to treat those who are in a position to be safely treated, including the renationalisation of the private hospital sector to bring these waiting times down.”