A Sligo TD is calling for echocardiograms to be conducted in primary care settings or integrated hubs to help tackle long hospital waiting lists for public patients.
Independent Deputy Marian Harkin has made the call following findings from a survey of echocardiography in Ireland, which has drawn attention to the reality of heart valve disease locally.
The new survey shows that 80% of private hospitals deliver direct GP access to echocardiograms while only 19% of public hospitals do.
Public patients, without health insurance, are more likely to be referred to a cardiologist in the public system, who may see them in an outpatients’ clinic before referring them on.
In some cases, the process can lead to a delay of 18 months, drastically reducing patient outcomes and increasing pressure on the hospital system.
Deputy Marian Harkin told Midwest News that allowing GPs to refer patients directly for an echocardiogram without going through a consultant would help reduce cardiac waiting lists.