| 5.7°C Dublin

Eye specialist waiting lists have doubled

WAITING lists to see an eye specialist are soaring nationwide, new figures reveal.

THE number of patients waiting to be seen as a day case have more than doubled over five years.

Figures show that, up to last November, there were 5,172 people on the day case waiting list for ophthalmology (treatment of eye disorders and diseases).

This is a dramatic increase from the 2,309 cases that were waiting in 2008.

A breakdown of the 2012 figures show that 2,457 people were waiting up to three months, 1,696 were waiting between three to six months, 1,013 were waiting between six months and a year.

Six people were on the day-case waiting list for more than a year.

By contrast, the numbers waiting for an ophthalmology appointment as an in-patient has come down over the same period: 247 last November.

Meanwhile, there is also a high number of people waiting to be seen as a day patient in orthopaedics, with over 2,769 on the list in the first 11 months of last year.

Surgery

Of these, 317 were waiting for six to 12 months, and one person had been forced to wait over a year for their procedure.

About 3,377 patients were on the in-patient orthopaedic waiting list by the end of last November. This would include people who are waiting for hip and knee replacement surgery.

This is 125 more than were waiting five years ago.

While the majority -- 1,702 -- are waiting up to three months, four people were waiting between one and two years, and one person for between two and three years.

There has also been a rise in the numbers waiting for cardio-thoracic surgery: 305 last November, compared to 120 five years ago.

Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan had asked the HSE how waiting periods for various surgical or medical procedures have fluctuated over the past five years.

Figures have previously shown that more than 10pc of inpatient hospital beds are out of use because they are occupied by patients who are medically fit or the beds are closed.

There has been a move towards treating more patients as day-cases in Irish hospitals over the past few years.

hnews@herald.ie