Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has called on the Minister for Health to stop ignoring the waiting list crisis and to bring in measures to address it.  Deputy Kelleher says urgent action is needed to reduce the exorbitant waiting times, and to ensure people are treated in a timely and effective manner.

Deputy Kelleher commented, “Every month, we are seeing the number of people on waiting lists rising dramatically yet Health Minister Leo Varadkar has failed to put measures in place to deal with the increasing crisis.  He regularly comments on how the figures are “going in the wrong direction”, and despite the fact that he has the power to alleviate the situation, he has done little to even attempt to tackle the problem.

“This Government promised to have all adults on waiting lists treated within 8 months.  That was a target it set for itself.  Now there are 71,547 people waiting more than a year for an outpatient appointment – that’s a jump of over 58,000 in a 12 month period.  Instead of dealing with the problem, the Minister has decided to move the goalposts and set a new target of 18 months.  This will see thousands more people waiting unacceptable lengths of time for consultant appointments.  The fact that there is no concrete plan to deal with the growing crisis is further evidence that this Government’s grand plan has failed.

“A Fianna Fáil-led Government introduced the National Treatment Purchase Fund to reduce excessive waiting times for patients, and despite its success Fine Gael and Labour simply dismantled the programme in favour of then Minister James Reilly’s Special Delivery Unit.  That scheme has failed patients and has resulted in the chaos that is being experienced by tens of thousands of people today.

“Minister Varadkar must take his head out of the sand, wake up to the fact that he is Minister and take ownership of the situation.  The absence of any plan to tackle waiting lists is disconcerting to say the least, and raises real concerns about Minister Varadkar’s ability to bring the health service back from the brink.  It is no longer acceptable for the Minister to stand back and commentate on the issues that he has a responsibility to fix.  The time for action is now”.