Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has said Minister James Reilly’s dismissal of an increase in hospital waiting lists is a cause of huge concern and highlights how out of touch he is with the crisis in our hospitals.

Deputy Kelleher was responding to new figures for March which show the number of adults and children waiting for an inpatient, or day case procedure, has increased by almost 1400 to over 50,000 compared with February.  The number of people on the outpatient waiting list to see a consultant is up over 30,000 to 331,000.

Deputy Kelleher said: “Minister Reilly has sought to completely dismiss these increases in waiting lists, describing them as merely ‘seasonal’.  This is very worrying and further underlines that the Minister is entirely out of touch with what is happening hospitals across the country.

“Hospitals are running over budget because they were forced to carry over debt from last year and were given unrealistic budgets by the Minister from the outset.  In fact if hospitals were not spending the money they are the waiting lists increases would be far higher.  There is a crisis at the heart of the health service and it is not being addressed by Minister Reilly.

“The Government’s cuts are having a direct impact on frontlines services and placing huge burdens on the staff trying to look after patients.  Minister Reilly is clearly running the health services with the politics of health back in the fore.  There has been a spike in the number of discretionary medical cards being approved in recent weeks because Fine Gael and Labour were taking heat from the public during the election campaign but the reality is there has been a deliberate targeting of discretionary medical cards for cuts.

“Minister Reilly cannot continue to starve hospitals of the resources they need to get waiting lists down and expect that this won’t continue to impact on patients.  We need a significant change in direction in the health service and Minister Reilly is not delivering for patients.”