Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Marc Mac Sharry says the Government cannot continue to sit back and leave a vacuum in health policy when tens of thousands of patients are waiting months and in many cases years for appointments and procedures.
The latest figures reveal there are 1,459 people waiting more than a year for an outpatient appointment at Sligo University Hospital, with an additional 3,243 on the list for an inpatient or day case procedure. These figures have escalated significantly – by 108% and 170% respectively – since April 2014.
Fianna Fáil is using its Private Members time in the Dáil this week to highlight the issue.
Deputy Mac Sharry commented, “We have seen waiting lists in the North West, and right around the country, spiral out of control since Fine Gael came into power. Successive Health Ministers have had differing ideologies and policies and ultimately patients are now paying the price. The situation has deteriorated significantly since 2014, to the point that there are almost 5,000 people on waiting lists at Sligo University Hospital at the moment. This is a scandalous situation, which is causing untold frustration and distress to the patients themselves and their families.
“Our health system is crippling under the pressure – with the chronic overcrowding issues in our Emergency Department having knock-on effects on other services within the hospital. Procedures have been cancelled, leading to further delays in waiting times, which in turn can have an impact on patients as they can become more unwell and may need more serious interventions as a result.
“Fianna Fáil has long believed that we should reactivate the National Treatment Purchase Fund so that patients can receive their treatment in a timely manner, reducing the number of public patients waiting for treatment in public hospitals. We secured agreement for this in the Confidence and Supply Arrangement and are monitoring delivery of this.
“Despite commitments on health funding, waiting lists have become progressively worse over the last number of years. We cannot allow the Government to sit on the sidelines any longer – this is an extremely serious situation and we need urgent action now”.