University Hospital Waterford was forced to invoke a protocol for dealing with overcrowding more times last year than any other hospital in the country.
The full capacity protocol is used to deal with emergency department overcrowding. It includes measures such as moving additional patients onto wards and hallways. It can also result in the cancellation of elective admissions to the hospital.
In a written parliamentary answer to Sinn Fein’s health spokesperson, the HSE said the protocol was the last stage of escalation under a national framework issued in 2015 to hospitals to deal with overcrowding.
The protocol was brought into play on over two hundred occasions in hospitals in Galway, Limerick and Cork, 306 times in South Tipperary General and 327 occasions at UHW.
Meanwhile, there’s more patients waiting longer than 18 months for an outpatient appointment at UHW than all the other hospitals in the South South West Hospital Group combined.
Figures released by the National Treatment Purchase Fund show that of the 36,851 people waiting to see a consultant in Waterford at the end of January, 9,453 of them are waiting a year and a half or more.
It’s the highest number in the country.
Tallaght and Galway are next in line with just over 5,000 people waiting 18 months or longer at each facility.
Otolaryngology or Ear Nose and Throat has the longest list in Waterford with 3,406 people waiting for their first appointment at a clinic for more than a year and a half. There’s 1,488 people waiting the same amount of time for Orthopaedics and 1,313 in Urology.
Elsewhere 6,161 patients are waiting for a procedure in Waterford, 509 of whom are on the list 18 months or more. That’s second only to Galway where over a thousand are waiting that long for a day case or inpatient procedure.