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Harney playing Pontius Pilate with waiting list figures – Ó Caoláin

25 June, 2008


Commenting on new figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund showing over 16,000 adults and children waiting more than three months for surgery and over 2,000 waiting for longer than a year, Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:

"The Minister for Health & Children Mary Harney in her response to these figures is playing the role of Pontius Pilate. She tries to wash her hands of her responsibility and pin the blame on the hospitals for allegedly not referring patients for treatment through the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

"The reality is that the National Treatment Purchase Fund cannot compensate for the shortage of hospital beds and the shortage of front-line staff in our public hospital system, a situation worsened by the HSE ban on recruitment. By no means can all surgery requirements be met under the NTPF. Remember, this was begun as a stop-gap measure to buy services in the private health sector because of the failure of Government to adequately fund and manage the public health service.

"The figures published today show the failure of Minister Harney and her Fianna Fáil and Green Party colleagues in Government to deliver the improved hospital services they promised. It should be noted that the waiting lists are in reality worse than these figures show because they take no account of the many weeks and months that thousands of patients have to wait for an initial appointment with a hospital consultant." ENDS

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