Lies, damn lies, and statistics?

Are you on a hospital waiting list?

No?  Lucky you!

Yes? Well, are you sure you are? You might not be.

I’m on a list.  Around a year at this stage, and I was told I’d be seen by a consultant sometime after in the second half of this year. Just as well it’s nothing serious.

Then last week I got a letter from the hospital. They’ve been ordered (by the HSE) to check their waiting lists, apparently.

So they’ve set up an office, dedicated to doing just that. They write (yes, snail-mail, with a franked envelope and everything) to everyone who is on a waiting list that lasts more than nine months.  That’s a euro per person, just for the stationary and postage.

If the person doesn’t respond within 10 days (by letter or phone) – they get taken off the list.

And hospital waiting lists get shorter?  And hang the expense of employing at least one person to send these hard-copy letters out to people.  Who knows how many people don’t get the letter, or forget about replying, or their return letter gets mislaid, and they inadvertently get taken off the list.

Seems like a crazy way to run a health service, and the only thing to change after all the expense is a seemingly shorter waiting list statistic…


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