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Minister for Health out of his depth as waiting lists rise again - O'Reilly

9 June, 2017 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the increase in the number of people on hospital waiting lists between April and May is completely unacceptable and is further proof that the Minister for Health Simon Harris is out of his depth in the job and does not have the appetite to address the issues in the health service.

Speaking today, Deputy O’Reilly said:

“It is hard to put into words how unacceptable the increase of 7,000 patients on hospital waiting lists between April and May is. Especially when that increase brings the total number on waiting lists to 672,000.

“It has been apparent for some time now that the Minister for Health is out of his depth in the job and does not have the appetite to address the issues we face in the health service.

“Nearly one in every seven people in the country are on a hospital waiting list and his decision to go canvassing in the Fine Gael leadership election for a month did not help this matter.

“The core problems contributing to excessive hospital waiting lists are issues of access, capacity, funding and resources. Yet, Minister Harris has no obvious plan to address these issues.

“To date Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have wedded to the idea that the private health service is the panacea to the problems in the public system through the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF). However, the NTPF is not the answer to the waiting lists crisis.

“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 will address the waiting list problems in then medium or long term.

“Sinn Féin has been calling for the introduction of an integrated hospital waiting list management IT system (Comhliosta) to properly address hospital waiting lists.

“Comhliosta is a system that allows patients on a waiting list to transfer to other hospitals that have shorter waiting times and therefore increase efficiencies and reduce waiting lists and times.

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

“If we do not show strength, vision, and leadership then the situation as it is will continue and descend into further chaos.”

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