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Hospital waiting figures "appalling"

28 April, 2006

The waiting list figures released by the National Treatment Purchase Fund have been described as "truly appalling" by Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Health spokesperson Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD. He said Sinn Féin would next week be launching a campaign for Healthcare as a Right and he urged people to mobilise to demand decent services.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said: "It is estimated that almost 30,000 people are on hospital waiting lists in the 26 Counties, based on the new data released by the National Treatment Purchase Fund. This is a truly appalling figure. It does not take into account the hidden list of many thousands more patients who are waiting for an initial appointment with a hospital consultant.

"These figures come four and a half years after the present Government made its pre-election promise to end hospital waiting lists altogether. Under the stewardship of Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats waiting lists have actually got longer and the crisis in A&E has worsened.

"Now, in a panic, the Government is trying to introduce long overdue reforms such as seeking a greater commitment from consultants to the public hospital system. But at the same time they are worsening the two-tier public-private apartheid in our health services by their strategy of privatisation.

"Next week Sinn Féin launches our campaign for Healthcare as a Right, based on our policy document Healthcare in an Ireland of Equals. We are calling on people not just to complain about the health services but to campaign and to demand the decent, equitable and efficient services that we need, that our healthcare workers can deliver and that our economy can well afford."

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