There are over 36,000 people waiting for a gynaecology appointment in Ireland, according to new figures.
Sinn Féin TD Sorca Clarke revealed the figures, released to her through Parliamentary Question, on Lunchtime Live this morning.
According to the figures there were 30,805 people waiting for an outpatient appointment for gynaecology services at the end of January 2022.
Deputy Clarke said there are 5,218 people waiting for an inpatient appointment – taking the total to over 36,000.
She said the figures show which parts of the country have the longest waiting lists – and reveal that, in January 2021, there were 4,372 women who were waiting longer than 18 months for an appointment.
“Those 30,805 women, each and every one of them is an individual,” she said. “Each and every one of them has gone and sought these appointments because they are having symptoms that need to be seen by a specialist.
“You and I both know that can lead to an increase in anxiety, that can lead to an increase in stress, and it can lead to a delay in diagnosis of a much more serious issue as well.”
She said women are forced to play a post-code lottery when it comes to health services – with waiting lists far higher in some areas than others.
“If you were to look at, say, County Louth hospital, in 2018, you would have been waiting 90 days,” she said. “That is now up to 178 days.”
“If you are in Portlaoise, it is 366 days. If you’re in Our Lady of Lourdes in Navan it is 390 days. If you look at my own constituency of Longford/Westmeath it is 179 days.
“So, it isn’t just isolated to a particular area – this is across the board.
“Where there are more densely populated areas, the waiting lists are longer and longer. That would make sense, the higher the population, the higher the demand – but there doesn’t seem to be a corresponding increase in the level of service being provided.”
Deputy Clarke said funding needs to be targeted at areas that have the longest waiting lists.
“Where we know there is a growing waiting list - and the figures are freely available, we know where those growing waiting lists are - they are the areas that need to be prioritised to ensure those waiting lists are brought down,” she said.
She also called for the National Cancer Programme to keep account of the number of cancer diagnoses through gynaecology appointments.
“If we are serious about tackling women’s health and if we want to see women’s healthcare put at the very core of our health service, then we need good data,” she said.
“We need good information in order to be able to get to the full extent of the issue and develop a plan that tackles it properly.”