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Core issues of access, capacity, funding and resources must be addressed to solve waiting list crisis – O'Reilly

31 May, 2017 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking this morning after a Private Members Motion on hospital waiting lists in the Dáil last night, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said her party has submitted an amendment to the motion as the original PMB does not go far enough in relation to dealing with the core problems contributing to excessive hospital waiting, access, capacity, funding and resources.

Deputy O’Reilly said;

“The motion laid before the house last night by Fianna Fáil identified the problems surrounding the hospital waiting list crisis. However, when it came to solutions, the motion was light on detail while placing too strong an emphasis on the private sector.

“Therefore, it was necessary for Sinn Féin to submit an amendment which seeks to adequately address issues of access, capacity, funding and resources. It also calls for the introduction of an integrated hospital waiting list management IT system (Comhliosta) to properly address hospital waiting lists.

“The Fianna Fáil motion is evidence of how that party is wedded to the idea that the private health service is the panacea to the problems in the public system. It is also no surprise that Fine Gael will not be opposing Fianna Fáil on this. The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) is not the answer to the waiting lists crisis. 

“In fact, the NTPF exists solely because of the underfunding of the public health service. We do not accept diverting money from the public purse to private health sector under the NTPF is the answer to the problem.

“There is a better and more efficient way, and this establishing a new integrated hospital waiting list management IT system. Comhliosta is a system that allows patients to transfer to other hospitals that have shorter waiting times.

“Instead of lingering on one list for one hospital, patients can move to another hospital with a shorter list. The system works extremely well in Portugal as it prioritises patients based on need.

“In meetings with Minister Simon Harris, we discussed Comhliosta at length and I was extremely pleased when he agreed to begin detailed examination of the system with a view to its implementation as Government policy.

“In partnership with this, there needs to be greater investment in public hospitals and to address the issue of recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals.

“It is only through such measures can we successfully tackle the over 660,000 people are on hospital waiting lists, the over 100,000 outpatient appointments outstanding for over a year, the 46,629 outpatients on waiting lists for more than 18 months, and the 5,770 patients on inpatient and day case waiting lists for more than 18 months.

“If we do not show strength, vision, and leadership then the situation will continue.” 

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