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Government failure to tackle cataract waiting lists means people in Waterford at risk of losing vision – Cullinane

4 April, 2018 - by David Cullinane TD

Speaking this afternoon, Sinn Féin TD for Waterford David Cullinane has hit out at the government for their failure to address waiting lists and the damage it is having, particularly for patients waiting for cataract operations in Waterford who risk losing their vision.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“The true metric for measuring this government is health and housing, and in both areas their haplessness and heartlessness are overwhelming.

“Their failure in health can be seen across the whole health service and one such area where their failure is more acute than most is waiting lists for cataract surgery.

“The procedure usually takes around 10 minutes to perform, yet there are currently 7,541 patients waiting on an operation across the state. These patients may have seriously impaired vision because of the cataract on their eye and the longer they have to wait for an operation the increased likelihood that their vision may be damaged permanently.

“That is why it is incredibly worrying that there are 315 cataracts patients who have been forced to wait over 18 months for the operation. It is scandalous and there is no way that the Minister for Health can stand over such figures and the possibility of a person in this state having their vision damaged because he can’t run a functioning health service.

“The scale of the situation in Waterford is disgraceful. There are currently 1,583 patients waiting for surgery in University Hospital Waterford and it is even worse when we see how many people have been left waiting over 12 months - currently 315 patients have been on a waiting list for this routine operation for over a year.  

“It should not be forgotten that behind every figure is a person, and in this instance they are predominantly elderly people.

“Minister Harris must acknowledge the scale of this problem and the scale of his failure - these waiting lists are the direct result of government policy. Waiting lists and patients on trolleys have increased continuously under his tenure as Minister for Health

“We need to look at how cataract surgery is carried out, the HSE ‘Primary Care Eye Services Review Group Report’ highlighted the limitations of the current model of delivery and  sought to set out the way forward for a significant amount of eye services to be delivered in a Primary Care setting.

“We need to see movement on such reports as well as the full implementation of the Sláintecare Report in order to address the problems in the health service caused by continuous poor policy decisions from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil over the past two decades.” 

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