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RTÉ uncover deception behind waiting list figures – Louise O’Reilly TD

6 February, 2017 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Reacting to the RTÉ Investigates programme that uncovered evidence that shows there are thousands of patients waiting for operations and procedures who are not included in the waiting list figures published by the NTPF, Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD said that the NTPF and the Department of Health are complicit in a mirage of smoke and mirrors to conceal the true extent of the waiting list crisis.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“It is clear from the RTÉ Investigates programme that the National Treatment Purchase Fund and the Department of Health are complicit in a mirage of smoke and mirrors to conceal the true extent of the waiting list crisis.

“At a time when the NTPF are clearly complicit in covering up and obscuring from public view the true reality of waiting list figures in Ireland, through the exclusion of patients classified as preadmit and planned procedure, the Minister for Health has made much of putting additional resources into the NTPF to ensure that inpatient day case lists are reduced.

“Only last week I questioned the Minister on data being provided by the NTPF and he advised that his Department would implement a robust monitoring framework of the NTPF. However, while how the money being put in the NTPF is spent is important, what is now glaringly obvious from the RTÉ report is that the NTPF itself is out of date with international best practice around publication models and methodologies around waiting lists. Was the Department aware of this before they decided to invest money in the NTPF, at the expense of developing public capacity?

“Last month, the Chief Executive of the National Treatment Purchase Fund, Jim O’Sullivan was quoted as noting that the private sector is the most ‘efficient and clinically effective way of having patients seen quickly’. But, the waiting lists that are presented to the public are purposefully edited and unreflective of the true realities of the Irish healthcare system.

“The RTÉ Investigates programme has shown that those figures deliberately omitted by the NTPF are more than statistics- These are real patients who need to be seen. They are languishing in often tremendous pain.  The Minister is aware of this escalating crisis but he has no plan to deal with it.

“The sad reality of these figures is that this is endemic of perpetual health crisis and one which is being concealed from public view by creative accounting and massaging of figures. We are lurching from crisis to crisis weekly- from overcrowded A&Es to cancelled surgeries. And it is all inextricably linked.

“The NTPF, the HSE, the Department of Health and the Minister have serious questions to answer. If the Minister has known of these figures he has deliberately withheld this information from the Dáil and the Future of Healthcare Committee- which he himself set up to develop a 10 year plan for the Irish health system. It is imperative the Minister make a statement to the Dáil immediately, setting out the true extent of the waiting list crisis he and his government are presiding over and what he is going to do to alleviate the suffering of those who are waiting.”

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