Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow – Kilkenny Bobby Aylward has called on Minister for Health Simon Harris to set out a detailed plan for tackling waiting lists at Waterford University Hospital.

Deputy Aylward made the comments after receiving new information which shows that inpatient and day case waiting lists at the hospital have soared by 159% since May 2013.

“Waiting lists at Waterford University Hospital have soared by 159% since 2013. It’s well acknowledged that the health service is under severe pressure, but the increase in Waterford is not proportionate with the rest of the country. For example the overall increase in waiting lists in the South / West Hospitals Group was 62% in the same period of time while Cork University Hospital has seen waiting lists decrease by 27%,” said Deputy Aylward.

“As of last August there were 4,123 people on the inpatient waiting lists which is an increase of 2,542 since 2013. This is a shocking figure and clearly demonstrates the effects of Fine Gael’s neglect of the health service in recent years. I have raised this matter in the Dáil directly with Minister Harris and I have stressed the need for a detailed plan to be set out to tackle rising waiting lists.

“Minister Harris has given me a commitment that he will instruct his officials to examine the figures which I have brought to his attention. I will continue to push Minister Harris to take urgent action to address these waiting lists. Every effort must be made to reduce the number of people stuck on waiting lists, especially for those who have been waiting for hospital services for months and in some cases years.

“I am aware that hospital management are currently working with the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund to source additional capacity to clear the waiting lists backlog. These efforts must be fast-tracked, and this is why I asked Minister Harris to personally intervene in this situation. He must follow through on his commitment with meaningful action.”

Deputy Aylward also welcomed the news that Waterford University Hospital is to appoint a second gastroenterologist in early 2017.

“Campaigners have long argued the need for a second gastroenterologist at the hospital. This position must be filled as a matter of urgency given the fact that the hospital is serving a catchment area of over half a million people,” concluded Deputy Aylward.