Fianna Fáil TD for Waterford, Mary Butler has said that the people of Waterford have been let down by Minister Simon Harris’ failure to address the chronic waiting times for basic ENT and orthopaedic appointments and procedures.

Deputy Butler was commenting after receiving new information from the HSE that shows that 680 patients are on UHW’s inpatient and day case waiting list for ear, nose or throat procedures.

“This is, in and of itself, a terrible example of Fine Gael’s failure in health, but the fact that nearly one in four. 150 people, of these patients are waiting over 12 months should shock Minister Harris into action now.

“I am very concerned that the HSE believes that hitting a 15 month maximum waiting time for inpatient day case patients is an acceptable timeframe.

“Many of those who are waiting inordinate amounts of times for procedures are having their quality of life severely diminished. Many are becoming housebound as their conditions get worse.

“Older people are disproportionately affected by these staggering waiting times for ENT and orthopaedic appointments and procedures.

“On a broader scale, there are 7,614 patients waiting on the University Hospital Waterford outpatient waiting list for ENT procedures with 4,068 of these waiting longer than 12 months. This is a scandal, and it shows no sign of getting better any time soon.

“With regard to orthopaedic waiting times, there is little comfort for the people of Waterford and indeed the South East.

“While many from Waterford are treated at Kilcreene Regional Orthopaedic Hospital in Kilkenny, there are still 105 waiting for a procedure.

“The failure to deal with the rocketing waiting lists at UHW is the legacy of three successive Fine Gael Ministers for Health, including new Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.

“The consistent lack of investment in dealing with routine, non-acute hospital appointments and procedures has caused these backlogs.

“Fianna Fáil insisted on the National Treatment Purchase Fund being re-established in 2016; however the slow pace of delivery and lack of urgency has to be questioned.

“How long are the Minister and the HSE prepared to leave patients languishing on waiting lists?

“How a society treats the sick and elderly is, for me, the measure of that society. Six years of Fine Gael government has convinced me that when it comes to Fine Gael, the sick and the elderly aren’t high on Fine Gael’s lists of priorities,” concluded Butler.