McGrath: Ophthalmology outpatients waiting lists not acceptable

Mattie McGrath TD. Photo © Houses of the Oireachtas.

A person’s location in the country should not determine how long they have to wait for hospital treatment according to a Tipperary TD.

Deputy Mattie McGrath says waiting lists for an Ophthalmology outpatients appointment in Tipperary is far longer than in parts of Dublin.

According to HSE figures over 20,000 people are waiting to be seen across the country.

One Community Healthcare Organisation – CHO 9 – which covers Dublin North, North Central and North West stands out as having just 94 patients waiting with no patient waiting for more than 12 weeks.

Mattie McGrath says the initiative shown by the Mater Hospital is in stark contrast to other areas.

“They have managed to drastically reduce the waiting lists in the last two years – even through Covid. They’re the only adult unit in this country and they’ve achieved a reduction.

“Currently according to the HSE figures this month there are only 94 people waiting. That’s in sharp contrast with 4,885 people in CHO 1. In CHO 5 which covers County Tipperary there are 2,361 patients waiting. This is shocking and we need co-ordination.”

However Minister Mary Butler says steps are being taken to tackle the current waiting lists for Ophthalmology outpatient appointments.

Hundreds of patients have travelled to Northern Ireland to receive Ophthalmology treatment under the Cross Border Directive.

Deputy Mattie McGrath says it’s simply unacceptable that we are forcing elderly patients to travel North of the border for treatment and a procedure that often takes less than an hour.

Minister Butler says moves are being made to tackle the issue at University Hospital Waterford.

“Currently there’s a new theatre being fitted out in relation to ophthalmology and also Minister Donnelly has made available €350 million this year – coupled with the €50 million already in place for the NTPF – for a waiting lists initiative and the details are being worked out at the moment.

“What the Minister is hoping to achieve is that anybody waiting six months by the end of this year will receive the treatment they need.”