Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly Barry Cowen says hospital waiting lists at the Midland Regional Hospital at Tullamore have reached breaking point and has called on Minister for Health Simon Harris to intervene.

Deputy Cowen pointed out that patients needing Orthopedic surgery currently have to wait for over 2 years on average. This compares to an average waiting time of 8 months in 2007.

Deputy Cowen said, “The number of people stuck on hospital waiting lists has been on the increase in recent months. This is a great cause for concern as it is well acknowledged that quick access to surgery is key in achieving a better outcome for patients. The Government has been well aware of the growing number of people stuck on hospital waiting lists but little action has been taken to date to fix the problem.

“The waiting lists for Orthopedic services at Tullamore Hospital are particularly bad. There are currently 6 Consultant Orthopedic Surgeons at the hospital but there are not enough beds available to accommodate each of their waiting lists. This situation arises as the Orthopedic Ward is now being used as an overflow area for the Emergency Department. The result of this is that there are fewer beds available to the Orthopedic Surgeons which in effect means they cannot operate at full capacity. This is having a knock on impact on Orthopedic patients as their surgeries are often cancelled at short notice.

“Minister Harris needs to recognise that failing to solve a problem in one part of the health service will inevitably result in other parts of the service suffering over time. His failure to deal with the Emergency Department over-crowding crisis has resulted in a dramatic increase in average waiting times for people stuck on hospital waiting lists. He needs to get to grips with Emergency Department over-crowding and invest in Primary Care to help reduce the need for people to attend hospital in the first place.

“It’s unacceptable that people are being forced to wait on Orthopedic waiting lists for over two years. The fact that they are on a waiting list in the first instance tells us that a consultant has determined they are suffering significant pain and need surgery. It’s simply inexcusable that these people are forced to wait for two years on average before they can get the surgery they need to alleviate their pain,” concluded Deputy Cowen.