The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has expressed its extreme concern at the new record number of children now waiting for an appointment to be treated or assessed in public hospitals.
There are 100,089 children now on some form of NTPF waiting list.
The "unacceptably long child waiting lists" are as a result of the difficulty in filling permanent consultant posts and decade long capacity deficits, the IHCA say.
More than one in three (34,342) of these children are waiting longer than a year for treatment or assessment by a hospital Consultant.
The warning from Consultants comes as latest National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) figures released today reveal that there are a record 86,400 children on Outpatient waiting lists, which is an increase of more than 4,200 (5%) since April 2021 when the NTPF first started to break down its outpatient lists into separate Child and Adult data.
The largest child Outpatient waiting lists are in the following key specialties:
- Paediatrics - 17,241
- Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) - 16,351
- Dermatology - 9,392
- Orthopaedics - 7,253
- Ophthalmology - 5,572
Commenting on today’s waiting lists, IHCA President Professor Alan Irvine, said: "For the first time, the monthly NTPF figures have recorded over 100,000 children on waiting lists for hospital care, with more than one in three of these children waiting longer than a year to be treated or assessed by a Consultant.
"This trend is worrying and is resulting in thousands of children not getting the care they need in a timely way, and the real possibility that they will suffer health and developmental issues that could easily have been reversed or mitigated against if only they were seen in time.
"Every single number is an individual child who could be experiencing pain, suffering or the psychological distress at not knowing when they will be able to receive treatment.
"This is a wholly unacceptable situation.
"As Consultants, we need and want sustainable solutions to help alleviate this distress and provide the care these children so desperately need.
"However, we have a chronic recruitment and retention crisis that is not being addressed urgently enough. This is evident from the fact that 838 approved Consultant posts nationally are either absolutely vacant or filled on a temporary or agency basis."
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