Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Lisa Chambers says the continued rise in hospital waiting lists further emphasises the need for the restoration of the National Treatment Purchase Fund.  The latest figures from the HSE reveal a 15% increase in the number of people waiting more than 12 months for an outpatient appointment at Mayo University Hospital between February and March this year.

Deputy Chambers explained, “The rapid increase in the number of patients waiting over 12 months to be seen over a four week period is a major source of concern.  It’s clear that Minister Leo Varadkar’s failure to get a grip on the trolley crisis is now impacting other services, with operations and procedures around the country being cancelled.  Orthopaedic consultant at Letterkenny University Hospital Peter O’Rourke has acknowledged that the escalation policy, which was implemented to deal with the trolley crisis, is making “a bad situation worse”.

“There were 1,115 people waiting more than 12 months for an outpatient appointment at Mayo University Hospital in March – an increase of 146 from February.  This is an alarming increase in a four week period.  It’s time the Government took heed of the warnings from frontline staff and address the issue.

“Fianna Fáil has consistently argued for the restoration of the National Treatment Purchase Fund.  This would reduce waiting lists and waiting times by referring public patients for treatment in private or public hospitals here, in Northern Ireland or abroad.  This could be done with the patients’ agreement taking quality, availability and cost into consideration.  It worked in the past and can do so again.

“Almost 200,000 patients benefitted under the scheme between 2002 and 2010, with average waiting times reduced to 2.6 months – down from between two and five years.  We need to see workable solutions implemented to bring down the excessive waiting times being experienced by patients in Mayo and in hospitals across the county.  Fianna Fáil believes this can be achieved by reactivating the NTPF, which has previously delivered results for patients”.