Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Older People, Mary Butler has said that older people are being disproportionately affected by the ever growing waiting lists for hospital appointments and treatments.

Deputy Butler was commenting after the latest National Treatment Purchase Fund figures show that over 718,000 people are waiting for either outpatient or inpatient appointments in our public hospital system.

“Across the four main specialities that directly affect older people – Geriatric Medicine, Ophthalmology, Orthopaedics and Rheumatology, lists at both outpatient and inpatient level have either increased or only marginally dropped.

“These four specialities directly affect the health and wellbeing of older people, and need to be prioritised in terms of bringing down the scandalous waiting times.

“Older people in need of cataract operations, hip or knee replacements or support in terms of conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s cannot afford to wait years for their procedures.

“Fianna Fáil successfully demanded the reintroduction of the National Treatment Purchase Fund as part of the Confidence and Supply arrangement. I believe that there is capacity in the private health sector to drastically reduce waiting lists for these specialities in particular.

“The promise by then Health Minister, now Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar that no one would wait longer than 18 months is as far away as ever.

“The Government seem to have thrown in the towel about making any difference or progress in the health service. That’s clearly wrong. The last Fianna Fáil government made significant progress up until 2011, and that progress has been lost under Fine Gael.

“Older people need a government that priorities investment in core health services, and that actively seeks to improve their quality of life,” concluded Butler.