Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has expressed his alarm at the jump in the number of patients waiting for over a year for an outpatient appointment at hospitals around the country.
The HSE Performance Report for January 2014, published this week, shows that the number of patients waiting for over a year for an outpatient appoint almost doubled from 4,937 to 9,602 in the space of just one month. The numbers waiting for over two years jumped from 947 to 1,270 over the same period.
Deputy Kelleher said, “What is particularly worrying is the number of sick children who are waiting for more than a year for an outpatient appointment at either Crumlin or Temple Street.
“At the end of January, there were 1,464 children waiting more than a year for an outpatient appointment. That’s up from 1,282 in December. In addition to this, there were 473 children on in-patient/day case waiting lists for more than five months at the end of January – up from 317 children in December.
“We have heard Minister Reilly promise several times that by the end of last year, no patient would be waiting for more than a year for an appointment. Clearly, the Minister’s strategy is not working. It’s clear from these figures that waiting lists are spiralling. We cannot continue to stand over a situation where thousands of people are forced to wait over a year just to see a consultant.
“I am also concerned about the recent delays in publishing waiting list information. Up to late last year the National Treatment Purchase Fund published monthly waiting list figures a few weeks into the following month. These latest figures for January should have been published in February, but Minister Reilly has put a stop to this. They are now only included in the HSE’s monthly report, which is usually two months later.
“It is wrong that Minister Reilly has stopped information being released to the public in a timely manner. The fact is that if the waiting times had improved in January, the Minister would have been very quick to issue a self-congratulatory press release. He is not so quick to publicise the deterioration of waiting lists on his watch.”