A lack of consultants in Irish hospitals is having a “serious effect” on delivery of women’s healthcare, according to doctors.
Figures from the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) show 28,417 women are waiting to see a gynaecologist nationally, with 5,394 waiting more than 12 months, while there has been a 40% increase over five years in the number of women waiting to see a gynaecologist.
Dr Peter Boylan, obstetrician and gynaecologist, said the issue 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.”
The hospitals with the longest wait times to see a gynaecologist are in Dublin, with 3,469 women waiting for the Rotunda Hospital, 3,148 in Tallaght Hospital and 2,099 for the Coombe Hospital.
Regionally, there are also significant numbers of women waiting for a gynaecological appointment.
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.
According to the IHCA, the consultant recruitment and retention crisis is a major factor in rising numbers of women now waiting.
One-in-five or over 500 of all permanent consultant posts nationally are now empty or only temporarily filled, resulting in patients waiting long periods to access essential healthcare services.
According to the IHCA, the Government’s continued support for a “failed policy”, is perpetuating “the unique and extremely damaging” salary cut imposed only on consultants appointed since 2012, and is driving specialists abroad.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform report published in the last week confirmed that, as a result, new consultants are being paid up to 51% less than their colleagues despite having the same demanding responsibilities.
The IHCA said the Government should restore pay parity for new consultants before it damages public hospital services and causes longer delays in treating patients.