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200,000 people waiting on outpatient hospital appointments - McDonald

5 July, 2011 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Speaking in the Dáil this evening Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD criticised Health Minister Dr James Reilly not prioritising the 200,000 citizens waiting on outpatient hospital appointments across the State and for his failure to commit to a comprehensive primary care strategy.

Deputy McDonald said:

“Countries with comprehensive primary care systems have lower healthcare costs, lower mortality rates, longer life expectancy and greater satisfaction with their healthcare system.

“But the fundamental flaw of Fianna Fáil’s primary health care strategy lives on in the current Programme for Government.

“Primary care teams need facilities - but there is insufficient infrastructure in place. Instead we have a crazy situation where virtual primary care teams have no building from which to deliver services and are unable to develop robust relationships with their communities or one another.

“Compounding this problem is the on-going shortage of GPs.

“Dublin’s north inner city has the lowest GP coverage per head of population and has the highest incidence of ‘closed’ GP lists – and some of the worst health and deprivation indices in the country with the poorest access to primary health services.

“The North Dublin Inner City Training Programme in General Practice is trying to address these imbalances. But the lack of primary care facilities will continue to thwart the efforts of progressive local doctors unless Government steps up and delivers desperately needed primary care infrastructire to the inner city.

“Evidence also shows that by setting up GP training programmes in places where it has been traditionally difficult to attract GP’s will lead to an increase in the number of GPs working in these areas.

“Government must also address the on-going problem of unacceptable waiting lists in the Mater Hospital. Recently the HSE gave the Mater a red card for unsatisfactory performance in respect of waiting lists for patient admissions

“Of course this problem is not unique to the Mater. There are now an estimated 200,000 citizens waiting for outpatient appointments in hospitals across the state. That is a shameful figure for any Government to stand over.”

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