Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal Charlie McConalogue says patients in Donegal are facing delayed diagnoses and poorer patient outcomes as a result of ever increasing waiting lists at Letterkenny General Hospital.
The latest figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund reveal that there were 16,221 on outpatient waiting lists at Letterkenny General Hospital in April. More than 5,500 of those have been waiting over a year to see a consultant. That’s a year on year increase of 328.5%
Deputy McConalogue commented, “The continuing escalation of waiting list numbers at Letterkenny General Hospital is nothing short of alarming. The Health Minister’s complete inaction on this crisis is inexcuseable. As a doctor he should be well aware of the consequences of delayed diagnosis, yet the number of people waiting more than 12 months for an outpatient appointment has rocketed over the past year. Minister Varadkar’s failure to come up with a tangible plan to deal with this growing problem is leading to increased backlogs in the system and extreme frustration and anxiety among patients.
“The situation is further exacerbated in Donegal because of the refusal by the Saolta Hospital Group to provide follow-up treatment to patients who were outsourced under the 2013 Out Patients Initiative. This has led to a situation whereby hundreds of patients who had been waiting over a year for treatment were transferred to other hospitals for assessment and treatment as part of the scheme. However, because of funding shortfalls hundreds of these patients have now been amalgamated back into the public waiting lists placing additional pressure on the system.
“This Government downgraded the National Treatment Purchase Fund in favour of James Reilly’s Special Delivery Units. This framework has failed patients completely and has led to these out of control waiting lists. Fianna Fáil wants to see the NTPF fully reactivated to ensure that public patients who are not treated within a reasonable timeframe are referred to private or public hospitals either here or in Northern Ireland for assessment and any follow on procedures necessary.
“The current situation cannot be allowed to continue as it is. It poses serious risks for patients and creates an atmosphere of anxiety as people are forced to wait in excess of a year for an appointment. Minister Varadkar has a choice – either secure additional funding to drive down the lists or adopt Fianna Fáil’s proposals to reactivate the NTPF. This Government has spent the past few weeks telling us that the economic recovery is underway – now is the time to reinvest the additional funds in essential public services and ensure a quality health system for people in Donegal and across the country”.