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Cullinane - Minister admits ‘unacceptable delay’

7 June, 2011

Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has tonight succeeded in securing a debate on the delays in Audiology services in Waterford General Hospital which resulted in Minister Frances Fitzgerald, acknowledging on behalf of Minister James Reilly, that the delay was unacceptable.

The Sinn Féin group leader had raised this matter previously in the Seanad, and had highlighted the serious difficulties facing those who wish to avail of audiology treatment,

It has previously emerged that 1,412 patients are on waiting lists since June 2010 at Waterford General Hospital, which is the main referral unit in the area but the figures no not include those on waiting lists for much longer periods. The HSE also accepted that the waiting time is approximately 20 months.

Speaking in the Seanad, Senator Cullinane stated:

“I have been dealing with a number of urgent cases where patients are on lengthy referral waiting lists to be seen by the Audiology Department at Waterford Regional Hospital.

“I have been in contact with a 62 year old constituent who will have to wait 2 years to see an audiologist, and 76 year old who is waiting over 3 years to be seen. These are appalling waiting times, and show up the public sector embargo as the blunt instrument it is. It is blind to the needs of patients and needs to be reviewed

Responding to Senator Cullinane Minister Fitzgerald agreed that the delays were ‘unacceptable’ but pointed to increased funding of €3.7m for the implementation of the recommendations of the review group.

Senator Cullinane responded to the minister by saying:

“While we welcome the commitment to increased funding for implementing the recommendations of the review group, we would stress the need for the full implementation of the National Audiology Review Group.

“The full implementation of the report is key to ensure patients are not faced with inordinate delays before they are seen, and that any harm caused by a failure to detect conditions as early as possible is avoided.”

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