Eye-clinic children now wait 18 months
CHILDREN with eye conditions are being forced to wait an "unacceptably long" time for an ophthalmic appointment at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin.
The average waiting time for an outpatient ophthalmology appointment is now up to a year and a half -- this refers to routine new referrals.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that some non-urgent patient appointments at the hospital have now been put back months due to the heavy workload in the department.
All outpatient referral letters are reviewed by a consultant or ophthalmic physician, and are clinically prioritised based on the information given, according to the HSE.
It said that: "Approximately 20pc of all ophthalmic appointments booked have been rescheduled for approximately two months later. All urgent referrals will continue to receive an urgent appointment.
The HSE said that if a parent or guardian is concerned about their child, they should contact their GP directly.
"The hospital is reviewing the waiting-list times for routine ophthalmic outpatient appointments and working with the HSE in an effort to improve waiting times," the HSE said.
The latest figures show that the current average waiting time for a routine new referral for an outpatient ophthalmology appointment is 15 to 18 months. All referral letters are assessed, and appointments made based on clinical need.
However Aengus O Snodaigh, of Sinn Fein, said: "The waiting times are unacceptably long. Timely access to the ophthalmology clinic is vital for children whether they have a simple squint or a complex neurological eye condition.
"These delays are a direct consequence of the Government's failure to invest in frontline health provision."
He said that: "Additional resources must be immediately allocated and the recruitment embargo must be lifted to allow for the employment of the necessary staff."