GPs hit out at HSE for ‘manipulation’ of waiting lists

Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Lorraine O'Sullivan/PA
Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA

Doctors have accused the HSE of attempting to manipulate waiting lists and causing people to lose their place for treatment.

The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) attacked the health service last night calling its practice of validating waiting lists “a national disgrace”.

Now the association has called on Health Minister Simon Harris to intervene, saying this is the next inevitable scandal to emerge from the health service in the wake of the CervicalCheck scandal.

NAGP members met yesterday to discuss the validation of waiting lists after a dramatic rise in the number of letters being sent to GPs by the HSE seeking clarification that patients still need to be on waiting lists. It said some GPs received 100 such letters last week. The NAGP believes this is a “cynical political ploy to manipulate waiting lists and make them appear smaller”.

The HSE has been issuing patients with letters advising them to contact hospitals if they still want an appointment. Usually they are given 10 days to respond or they face being automatically removed from a waiting list and having their GP contacted. If the treatment is still required after this has happened, a patient must be referred again. The patient is then placed at the bottom of the waiting list.

NAGP president Dr Maitiu O Tuathail said there is “no logical reason” for the practice. Instead, patients should be removed from lists for failing to attend three appointments at a hospital, he said.

“This is a national crisis and a disgrace and I am calling on Minister Simon Harris to end this cynical politically motivated manipulation of waiting lists.

“It is targeting the most vulnerable in our society and is harming patients. GPs will not support this,” he said.

The HSE was unavailable for comment last night.

Sunday Independent

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