More than 900,000 patients are now on some form of a public hospital waiting list in Ireland. 

A record number of Irish people are waiting to be treated or assessed by a consultant, according to new data.

The latest Irish public hospital waiting list data was published by the NTPF does not paint a good picture for those in pain.

It is no wonder that thousands are looking to Spain to skip the lines, with the Irish government paying for 100% of the procedures in many cases.

(please consult with Surgery Now to establish if you qualify for 100% refund on your treatment in Spain). 

Towards the tail end of 2021, 77,500 patients were waiting for an appointment for their inpatient or day-case treatment. Equally shocking is the fact that 650,500 patients were waiting for their first hospital outpatient consultation. This figure is up by more than 50,000 year on year.

Ireland’s health system is creaking, but visiting Spain to become pain-free is fast becoming the most popular option for patients and their families.

The emergence in health care in Ireland does not appear to be evenly distributed. Each regional hospital has an embarrassing waiting list, but certain blackspots across the country still exist. Your condition and where you live clearly determine how soon you are treated.

The national picture shows outpatient waiting lists are the worst hit, with 617,450 adults and children in the queue, and 153,500 of those are waiting for more than 18 months.

Another 75,500 are on inpatient and day-case waiting lists, 10,000 of whom are facing the longest delays.

But these figures hide the uneven access to patients waiting for the same procedure in different hospitals.


The problem with waiting lists in Ireland. 

The Irish Medical Organisation and the Irish Hospital Consultants Association both claim the failure to attract enough specialists to Ireland is a core reason for waiting lists.

We have adequate specialists in Spain and other European countries.  However, the high cost of living, the housing crisis in our cities and transport issues are keeping these highly trained professionals here in Spain.

Instead of waiting for the specialists to come to them, Irish people are finding the specialists abroad and the HSE is footing the bill.

The differing figures across hospitals in Ireland is also influenced by underfunding. This chaos results in a lack of beds, a lack of specialist nurses and quite incredibly, staff who are still redeployed to Covid care.

Finally, according to the experts, the problem is made worse by inadequate step-down facilities for medically fit patients. There is emergency department overcrowding and without companies like Surgery Now, there is an inability to farm out less complex cases to neighbouring facilities across Europe.


Surgery Now provides a completely free service in Spain to get patients off waiting lists, fully supported by the HSE. 


Orthopaedic procedures. 

Surgery Now helped hundreds of patients to become pain-free in Spain last year. What about in Ireland?

Patients in pain, who need a hip or other orthopaedic procedure, suffer a waiting list of 170 in the Mater Hospital Dublin. There are currently 29 in the queue for over a year. They can instead have the treatment completed within a month of reading this in Spain with better care and less chaos.

867 patients are waiting in St James’s Hospital for the same treatment. Here in James’s 339 clients are in the queue for at least a year.

Waiting lists for Orthopaedics in Sligo University Hospital. 

University Hospital Sligo has 484 patients in the queue with 196 people waiting over a year.

Waiting lists for Orthopaedics in Tullamore Hospital. 

Tullamore has a bigger queue of orthopaedic patients than Sligo coming in at 654. A delay of over a year faces 186 patients.


Delays in ophthalmology care.

Ophthalmology care in general and specifically cataract surgery is suffering in Ireland. The Mater Hospital, Dublin, has 274 patients waiting over a year. Unbelievable, despite the considerably lower population, Waterford University Hospital has a waiting list of 417. Cataract surgery can be dealt with through our partners in I-Med’s network of private hospitals within a week or two.

Again, this surgery is covered by the Cross Border Scheme, meaning the only costs to the patient are accommodation, flights, food and a little rest and relaxation under the Spanish sun.


Delays to Cardiology Care in Ireland. 

3,500 people are waiting in Ireland for cardiac procedures.

St James’s Hospital, Dublin, has an inpatient and day-case cardiology list of 810. From this figure, 181 sick patients are waiting for more than a year.

Galway University Hospitals has a lower list of more than one year patients at 120, but the larger queue of 877 waiting for cardiology is a concern to all involved.

Dr Angie Brown, Cardiologist, said that the pandemic impacted negatively on many cardiac patients. The problems have led to cancelled outpatient appointments, investigations and surgeries. This makes a bad situation worse. Due to Covid, some patients were afraid to come to the hospital.

Opening the borders to Spain post-Covid will help us to ease the pressure on the waiting lists.

Dr. Brown should know; she is also the medical director of the Irish Heart Foundation.


Waiting lists and children in Ireland. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, when pushed on the topic of the suffering of children, said delays in treatment for children with conditions such as spina bifida and scoliosis were not acceptable. Martin, speaking of the issue of waiting lists in the Dáil, insisted it was not a matter of funding. The HSE will in fact pay clients to come to Spain to have their treatment here.

The crisis in orthopaedic lists for children continues. Desperate parents of young patients with scoliosis and spina bifida are not being seen.

The HSE has allocated recurring funding of €4m a year to Crumlin and Temple Street Hospitals in a bid to deal with the crisis. This we hope, combined with the option of travelling to Spain will reduce waiting times.

Children’s Health Ireland said all children with long waits will have a plan within months and it believes the investment will make a difference to wait times.


General surgery delays. 

In relation to general surgery in Ireland (for example, operations for the gallbladder, hernia, varicose veins and other conditions) the numbers are not good. Patients with waits of at least a year vary from 380 in St James’s Hospital, 500 in Galway University Hospital and 225 in St Vincent’s Hospital Dublin,


Delays in Gynaecology

In the area of gynaecology, Cork University Maternity Hospital has 151 women waiting over a year.

Performing quite well in this sector is the Coombe Hospital, Dublin with “just” 27 on a waiting list.


Bariatric surgery delays.

Consultant endocrinologist in Galway, Professor Francis Finucane recently said that the numbers of those on the waiting list in Ireland has now risen to 900 and the delay has extended to two years.

Before the pandemic, the list of bariatric patients with obesity who needed care was 400. The wait then was around a year.

Things are getting worse, meaning taking advantage of specialist care in Spain has never been so important to so many people.

Francis Finucane also says that some patients are waiting up to four years for an endocrine assessment, which involves hormone-related disease.

Surgery Now provides a totally free service, supported and funded by the HSE. Our aim is to get people off waiting lists and pain free as soon as possible. If you think we can help, please speak to a member of our Irish staff in Spain or Ireland today. 

Email: [email protected]