Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher TD has called on the Health Minister to re-establish the National Treatment Purchase Fund to address the huge surge in waiting list numbers.  In a 10 month period to the end of November 2014, the numbers waiting for scheduled hospital care rocketed by almost 14,000.

Deputy Kelleher commented, “This Government set itself a target in health to have all adults on waiting lists treated within 8 months.  They failed, and less than six months into the job, Minister Leo Varadkar has simply changed the target to 18 months.  At this point in time nearly 1 in 4 adults are waiting longer than the original target time, with more than 4,500 people waiting more than a year for procedures.

“These spiralling waiting lists are a clear demonstration of the Government’s failure to get a grip on the situation.  Their policies to date have clearly failed, resulting in what has now become a national crisis.

“Hospitals right across the country are straining under a health service which is under staffed and under resourced.  Overcrowding reached record levels earlier this month, and waiting lists are heading in the same direction.  Minister Varadkar has been unable to come up with tangible measures to alleviate this pressure, choosing instead to tinker with targets and warn the public of further delays – playing the role of analyst rather than taking control of his department. 

“A report from the Euro Health Consumer Index has seen Ireland’s healthcare system slide from 14th to 22nd position in just over a year.  This is a damning indictment of the Government’s handling of the health service, with Irish patients’ faith in the system rapidly deteriorating.

“The abolition of the National Treatment Purchase Fund established previously by a Fianna Fáil led Government is one of the many errors that this Government has made in health.  Former Minster Reilly hijacked a scheme which was successful in driving down waiting times and replaced it with the Special Delivery Unit, which is completely dysfunctional and has failed to keep pace with rising waiting lists.  Minister Varadkar must stop acting as though he is an impartial by-stander and take action to address the crises which are escalating under his watch”.