Fianna Fáil Senator Jennifer Murnane O’Connor says the Government cannot continue to sit back and allow a growing number of patients to be stuck on waiting lists for appointments and procedures.

Senator Murnane O’Connor made the comments after obtaining new information which shows that 717 patients are currently stuck on the waiting list for inpatient and day case procedures at St. Luke’s General Hospital in Kilkenny. 95 people have been waiting over 12 months for an appointment or procedure.

Senator Murnane O’Connor said, “We have seen waiting lists continue to increase right around the country. They have spiralled out of control since Fine Gael came to power. Successive Health Ministers have had differing ideologies and policies and ultimately patients are now paying the price.

“Our health system is crippling under the pressure – with the chronic overcrowding issues in our Emergency Department having knock-on effects on other services within the hospital. Procedures have been cancelled, leading to further delays in waiting times, which in turn can have an impact on patients as they can become more unwell and may need more serious interventions as a result.

“Fianna Fáil has long believed that we should reactivate the National Treatment Purchase Fund so that patients can receive their treatment in a timely manner, reducing the number of public patients waiting for treatment in public hospitals. We secured agreement for this in the Confidence and Supply Arrangement and are monitoring delivery of this.

“Despite commitments on health funding, waiting lists have become progressively worse over the last number of years. We cannot allow the Government to sit on the sidelines any longer – this is an extremely serious situation and we need urgent action now”.