Thousands of patients have been removed from hospital waiting lists following a ‘validation process.’
The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) wrote to over 195,000 people this year asking whether they still required treatment.
According to the Irish Patients Association (IPA), nearly 16,000 asked to be removed from the list.
The NTPF does not currently record the reasons why patients ask to be taken of the lists; however, IPA chair Stephen McMahon said many may have been forced to get urgent care elsewhere.
“Patients coming off the inpatient patient list, such as for hip replacements and so on, were saying that they had actually ended up in the ED Department,” he said.
“When patients are on a waiting list, they have an expectation that they are going to get better.
“It would appear for some that they are actually getting sicker and indeed end up in the Emergency Department to finally have their treatment.
“We consider this a major risk to patient safely.”
He said the NTPF will be doing “more analysis” on the reasons why patients are coming off the lists next year.
“Our concern is, for 2019, that we believe and understand that there are patients getting so sick on the waiting list that they are ending up as an emergency,” he said.
“This needs to be dealt with as quick as possible.”
The validation letters are normally sent to patients who have been waiting for six months or longer.
Those who say they no longer need their treatment are removed from the list.
If a patient does not respond within two weeks, they are sent a reminder. It there is still no response after another two weeks, they are taken off the list.
Following this year’s audit, 3,135 patients asked to be removed from the inpatient and day case surgery list.
Meanwhile, 12,793 asked to be removed from the outpatient list.
The IPA warned that despite the validation process, the number of people waiting for an outpatient appointment rose by 56,607 to 568,769.