North County Leader

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‘Waiting Lists Causing Irreversible Sight Loss’


Sinn Féin Health spokesperson and local TD, Louise O’Reilly has described as “scandalous” reports that thousands of ophthalmology patients, including some from the North County, are waiting over a year for treatment.

Many of these patients suffer from macular degeneration and diabetes-related eye disease which requires early treatment to save sight. Thousands of eye patients are at risk of irreversible sight loss as a direct result of these delays.

O’Reilly said: “It is absolutely scandalous that some 34,000 ophthalmology patients are waiting on outpatient treatment while some 13,000 are waiting on procedures. With 75 per cent of sight loss unavoidable, the scandal of patients waiting over a year to be seen is directly responsible for causing irreversible sight loss. Inaction on this issue cannot be allowed to continue. I will be raising this issue directly with Minister Simon Harris and I will outline Sinn Féin’s radical plan to deal with the waiting list crisis.”

She continued, “Under the current system waiting lists vary drastically across our hospitals. Patients do not know where they stand on the list or how long they will be waiting. People waiting for similar procedures can wait different lengths of time depending on which hospital they have been referred to.”

“We want to do away with that. We would introduce a new IT system based on the one in use in the Portuguese NHS, which would generate new maximum waiting times by transferring those on the list from hospitals that are struggling to meet demand to those that are in a better position to perform the procedure more timely.”