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25 May 2022

EXCLUSIVE: Almost 5,500 Tipperary hospital appointments cancelled in six months

In this week's Tipperary Star and Nationalist

Tipperary Tipperary Tipperary

Tipperary University Hospital in Clonmel

Almost 5,500 appointments at Tipperary University Hospital were cancelled in the first six months of 2021, The Nationalist can reveal.

Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows that 5,479 appointments were cancelled at TUH between January and June of last year.

Some 3,767 of these were outpatient appointments while 1,712 were inpatient appointments or day case procedures.

Documents obtained under the FOI Act show that 607 inpatient or day case appointments were cancelled “due to the pandemic”, with 392 of these cancelled by the hospital and the other 215 cancelled by patients.

Speaking to The Nationalist, Tipperary TD, Sinn Fein’s Martin Browne, said that while Covid-19 severely impacted hospitals across Ireland, the health service was already struggling due to “historic underinvestment”.

“It can’t be denied that Covid-19 had an impact on waiting lists at the time,” said Deputy Browne.

“Hospitals were under huge pressure - another Covid wave had struck, which impacted on staffing numbers and on the hospital’s ability to function as normal.

“Workers were showing an outstanding level of commitment to the public’s health. They were working long hours, in very difficult conditions, and many became ill themselves.

“But it must also be recognised that for years before this, wait times had been going up on a national level and hospitals were running at near-capacity pre-Covid, due to historic underinvestment,” he added. Mr Browne pointed out that, at the end of 2019, 3,670 people were on the outpatient waiting list at TUH, with 633 waiting a year or more.

“It is clear this was a significant problem before Covid,” he said.

“It goes without saying that the cancellation of appointments adds to waiting lists and, ultimately, the length of time those on the list must wait to get seen. Figures for the end of March 2022 reveal that 4,393 people were on the outpatient waiting list at TUH with 771 waiting a year or more,” he added.

“This indicates the extent of the challenges being faced by TUH to deal with the backlog of cases.”
Mr Browne stated that it is important to bear in mind the impact these cancellations and delays can have on patient health.

“It is crucial that a workable and effective waiting list strategy is put in place,” he said, adding that he feels the strategy announced by the Government “does not go far enough”.

The South/South West Hospital Group was contacted for comment.

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