Hospital makes big inroads into MRI waiting list

MRI scans: waiting list has been cut by 70%.
MRI scans: waiting list has been cut by 70%.

Galway’s public hospital group, Saolta, is making serious headway in clearing the backlog of patients awaiting life-saving MRI scans.

The numbers waiting for scans at Merlin Park and University Hospital Galway has been slashed since March when the lists were described as “scandalous”.

Back then, there were 2,400 people waiting, and the average wait times for a scan was two years for public patients.

But a longer working week, and longer working day, has resulted in waiting lists being cut by as much as 70% in the past six months.

Pressure applied on Saolta by Galway West TD, Éamon Ó Cuív, has paid off and resulted in a prioritisation of the MRI scan waiting list.

New figures supplied by Saolta to Deputy Ó Cuív reveal the priority one waiting list – the most serious cases – has been eliminated completely, down from 200 in December last year to zero now.

The numbers waiting for priority two scans have fallen from 1,834 to 562 since December last year, with the waiting time cut from 720 days to 259 days.

That represents a 70% cut in the numbers waiting, and a 64% reduction in the numbers of days patients are waiting for scans.

“While this is still an unacceptably long time to be waiting, the improvements which have been made over the past few months must be recognised,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

The former Minister said he expects Saolta to make further inroads into the MRI waiting lists, as it takes more steps to invest in the service in the coming months.

For more on this story, see the Connacht Tribune.