Fianna Fáil TD for Waterford Mary Butler has called on the Health Minister to come up with a plan to deal with excessive waiting lists. She was referring to the huge numbers of people waiting for orthopaedic appointments at University Hospital Waterford.

The latest figures available reveal that there are more than 6,600 people on the outpatient waiting list at UHW. 1,655 of these are waiting over 18 months for an appointment.

Deputy Butler said, “These figures are truly astounding and point to a system which is absolutely creaking at the seams. While I appreciate that staff at the hospital are going above and beyond to ensure that patients are seen as quickly as possible, the main problem is that there are staffing and resources issues.

“The HSE points to the fact that it ran evening clinics last year in a bid to reduce the backlogs, and I would suggest that a similar initiative is rolled out again to ease the waiting times for patients.

“An 18 month wait is too long for any patient to be expected to endure, particularly when many of these patients are older people with reduced mobility who are waiting for hip and knee replacements. Their quality of life is being severely reduced for months, and possibly years, and that is not acceptable.

“I have previously advocated for a special task force within the National Treatment Purchase Fund to examine waiting lists for older people and I would once again call on Minister Harris to consider this proposal.

“These waiting lists must be tackled – we cannot expect people to wait such extraordinary lengths of time for what are routine procedures”, concluded Deputy Butler.