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Community Dáil Éireann Government Health Louth

Concerns Raised About Long Waiting Lists for Eye Examinations

Children over 12 in Louth will be referred to private opticians so that HSE staff can begin to clear the massive backlog in referrals, Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú has revealed.

The Sinn Féin TD said the information had come in response to a parliamentary question he put to the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly before the Dáil recess, and which was responded to by the HSE in recent days.

In its response to the Dundalk deputy, the HSE said that a ‘twin track’ approach is being adopted in Louth with the recruitment by Primary Care Management, of a Senior Grade Orthoptist along with assistance from the Service Lead.

The HSE said: ‘The commitment is to set in motion an innovative mechanism to reassign children over age 12 years to the local optician of their choice as a safety valve mechanism to increase capacity by freeing up appointment slots better assigned to new referral patients.

‘Additionally, the health care professionals within the Ophthalmic Services in Louth and Meath have volunteered to run a Waiting List Initiative to screen all those on the waiting list, this screening event will be run over two days and should also help to reduce the backlog.

‘Both initiatives are expected to greatly reduce the numbers waiting before next year’s new cohort of referrals begin, with the return to school after the summer holidays.’

Deputy Ó Murchú said: ‘A number of parents had raised concerns with me earlier in the year about the long waiting lists for eye examinations and follow up care for their children.

‘I am glad to see that progress is being made on this issue, but it has taken far too long, particularly when the HSE knew this problem was here and growing as more and more children came on the list.

‘The HSE may call it ‘innovative’ to refer patients to private opticians, which may help clear the backlog, but to me it is an admission that the service is not able to cope, and has not been able to cope for a significant period of time.

‘It is welcome news for the children on the list and their parents.

‘I hope the HSE will communicate clearly with them as things progress because in the months leading up to this ‘innovation’, communication was patchy at best’.

ENDS

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