“I have no confidence in the system”
There are 75,000 people awaiting inpatient and day care procedures in Irish hospitals. However, a €350 million investment in hospital waiting lists will bring them down to their lowest level in five years, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said.
The minister launched the 2022 waiting list action plan on Friday, set to be the first of a ‘multi-year‘ reform program to ‘stabilize and reduce’ waiting lists and waiting times in the service of Irish health.
We asked Irish Times readers to share their experience of waiting for hospital appointments. Here are some of the responses we received. Some entries have been edited for length.
“Waiting nearly three years for a breath test”
I have been waiting for more than 16 months for a chest scan [scan] and nearly three years for a breath test. These problems started long before Covid.
“Money spent recklessly and carelessly”
“I recently had an emergency visit to the ER at Beacon Hospital in Sandyford. Just to be clear I called St Vincent first and they waited three hours for triage and then it was through order of severity. I wasn’t a life or death case, but I was very, very sick, so I decided to go to the Beacon. I was sorted within minutes, I saw a doctor within an hour and I had blood work and an ultrasound within an hour All the results came back so quickly and another consultation with the doctor It cost me €580 but was worth every penny for the relief and peace of mind.The only difference is the money.
“If public hospitals were funded to work as quickly and efficiently, admissions would be cut by at least half. So many people are being admitted for these simple tests that seem to take weeks to do and more weeks to get results costing huge sums of money as hospital patients when [it’s] not really necessary. Health system money is being spent recklessly and without due diligence. Get rid of the best CEOs that have been around since the Charlie Haughey era and spend their salaries on patients.
“If I hadn’t changed consultants, I would still be waiting”
“[I] waited 2.5 years for a bowel resection even though I was classified as urgent. I was at high risk for bowel obstruction and perforation. Eventually I did when a consultant I used to attend at Roscommon Hospital wrote a stern letter to my consultant in Galway asking for my operation to be carried out.
“I received a letter from my consultant in Galway within a few weeks and he said he was going to refer me to a new consultant who had just started and had room on [their] waiting list… I was referred to a new consultant and had my surgery within a few months. If I hadn’t changed consultants, I would still be waiting for my operation.
“Eleven years and counting”
“My son was placed on a waiting list at Kerry General Hospital at 12 months old for a simple tongue inversion, he has now been on that list for 10 years.
“Four years ago I paid a private clinic to do the job, it took less than an hour from in to clinic to discharge. My son to this day is still on the list of waiting for the hospital because we want to see how long it actually takes them to call him. This summer it will be 11 years and counting.”
“I was disgusted and furious”
“I have been on a waiting list for 16 months for a cardiac MRI at Tallaght Hospital. I was told that there was something wrong with my heart during an inpatient stay and that it needed to be investigated further. I received the MRI privately after waiting months without hearing anything. I was diagnosed with heart disease in the last few months after the MRI and underwent cardiac surgery to correct my arrhythmia.
“However, this week I received a letter asking if I still wanted to stay on the waiting list for the cardiac MRI for review. I was disgusted and furious. To say that if I hadn’t taken the privately, I could have waited a year and a half to receive the CT scan and subsequent urgent care for heart disease.
“It feels like a third world country”
“I had an ultrasound for a hiatal hernia in 2019. I was told it was ‘huge’ and pressing on my right lung. I take two inhalers and don’t smoke. I saw the surgeon twice at University Hospital Galway. Last time I saw him he told me I would have to wait for months more as there was a backlog. I already had to have my cataracts done at Belfast and make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon there in July as I don’t want to wait years for knee surgery.
“It’s like being in a third world country when it comes to health. I don’t have a medical card or health insurance. I am seventy-two years old. I have absolutely no confidence in our current healthcare system.
‘To cross [the] Border, I would immediately have emergency surgery ‘
“I have three torn menisci, two in my left knee and one in my right knee, proven by an MRI image and a radiologist’s report. I have now been patiently waiting in my wheelchair for 14 months to see an orthopedic consultant. After calling his office, I was told that I would have to wait at least another ridiculous four years to see an orthopedic consultant.
To cross [the] Border, I’d have the rush surgery done right away, but to get HSE cover, there’s the S2 form to be signed first by the consultant I see, [at the] four years from now at the earliest. This clearly shows me that Ireland has no healthcare system. The plan to reduce the waiting list over the next five years clearly shows me how useless this government really is on this file.