Patients Hit by Strike May Go to Bottom of Waiting List

Daily Mail (London), October 8, 2013 | Go to article overview

Patients Hit by Strike May Go to Bottom of Waiting List


Byline: Petrina Vousden Health Editor

THOUSANDS of patients who had appointments called off today because of the junior doctor strike could be forced to the bottom of the waiting list, it has emerged.

The strike - which was set to start this morning at 7am and end at midnight - is expected to cause long delays for patients attending A&Es across the country today.

It has also resulted in up to 15,000 patients having their operations and out-patient clinic visits cancelled.

A further 30,000 more could have their appointments cancelled next week if a threatened escalation of the protest to a two-day strike proceeds.

The cancellations were put in place as part of the HSE's contingency plan. And the head of the HSE, Tony O'Brien, could 'It's totally unacceptable' give no guarantees yesterday that patients affected by cancellations would not have to go back to the bottom of the list.

He said: 'Our aim would be to ensure that doesn't happen. Our capacity to respond to their needs is entirely dependent on the resolution of this dispute.

'Until we have a resolution it's very difficult for us to be definitive.

We certainly won't allow those patients to be forgotten.' The level of cancellations across the 15,000 appointments scheduled today will vary from hospital to hospital but it is expected that only a limited number will go ahead.

For example, the Mater Hospital is cancelling all outpatient clinics and elective surgery with 'the exception of a small number of consultant clinics and daycase procedures'.

University Hospital Limerick issued a statement informing patients: 'If your procedure or operation has to be cancelled you will be contacted directly by phone call. If you do not hear from us you should present to the hospital as normal.' About 3,000 patients were scheduled to have planned operations such as hip replacements or day procedures like cataract treatment today across the public hospital network.

They are among 50,000 patients nationwide on waiting lists to access in-patient or day care. More than 1,000 of them are waiting more than 12 months.

A further 12,000 patients were scheduled to attend out-patient clinics today. Those patients are among 374,104 waiting to see specialists - with 84,000 waiting more than a year. …

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