NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Many Patients Are Waiting Longer For Care In Ireland

March 23, 2001

An eight year, multimillion pound campaign to reduce hospital waiting lists in the Republic of Ireland's public health service has been largely unsuccessful, reports the British Medical Journal. Although lists overall have shown a small decline, many patients are waiting longer now than four or five years ago.

Waiting lists are a form of health care rationing in national health systems that provide care largely free of cost to patients.

  • The Irish government has managed to reduce waiting times in only three adult specialties: cardiac surgery, vascular surgery and ophthalmology.
  • Waiting times for pediatric cardiac surgery have decreased, but 60 percent of such patients still wait for more than six months.
  • Indeed, the Eastern Regional Health Authority has just told the children's hospital at Crumlin, in Dublin, that if it cannot provide urology surgery for children in need, it must send them abroad for care.

Regarding access to care, patients living outside Dublin remain as disadvantaged in their access to medical specialists as they were 10 years ago. Nearly one in two consultants and junior doctors are in Dublin -- even though three quarters of the population do not live in the east of Ireland.

Source: Doug Payne, "Campaign to reduce waiting lists in Ireland has had little impact," British Medical Journal, March 24, 2001.


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