Waiting List Crisis escalates as 243,000 patients waiting more than a year for a hospital appointment – David Cullinane TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has said that 243,000 patients are waiting more than a year for a hospital appointment, and that a further 13,000 more patients were added to lists in February than were removed.
He said that the Government’s planned 18% reduction in lists by the end of the year in doubt.
Teachta Cullinane called on the Government to rapidly build capacity into the public healthcare system and implement a cross-departmental workforce strategy to train and retain enough doctors, nurses, therapists, and allied health and social care professionals to tackle long waiting lists.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“The waiting list crisis continued to escalate last month with thousands more added to hospital waiting lists.
“So far this year, nearly 13,000 more people have been added to lists than have been removed.
“There are now 243,000 people waiting longer than a year for an appointment for a consultation or a procedure. That is unacceptable and causing great harm to these patients.
“Delayed care has serious consequences as conditions are allowed to get worse without intervention. This is costlier to the patient and the system in the long run.
“The Government needs to get serious about fixing the health service. That needs more than lofty plans which are not worth the paper they are written on without serious investment in capacity and the workforce to back them up.
“The Government is set to fall far short of its bed plan this year according to the targets in the HSE’s Service Plan, having fallen short 40% last year as well.
“Despite all the talk, the Government does not have a joined up and proactive workforce strategy to train, recruit, and retain healthcare professionals.
“Major reforms have been delayed – such as the establishment of Regional Health Areas – which would improve transparency and accountability in the health service.
“Regional Health Areas must be developed quickly if we are to see any change.
“No effort will be enough to tackle long wait times without an increase in capacity in the public system, including boosting staffing levels. This cannot be accomplished without addressing the fundamental reasons why staff leave the health service.
“The Government must sit down with trade unions in developing any workforce strategy to ensure that not only are we training enough graduates, but that we can retain them to work in the Irish health service instead of emigrating abroad.”