Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Colm Keaveney has slammed the Health Minister following the publication of figures which show that the number of people waiting more than 18 months for In and Out Patient appointments at University Hospital Galway are the highest in the country. There are currently more than 3,000 patients languishing on lists for over a year and a half.
Deputy Keaveney commented, “The situation at University Hospital Galway has been deteriorating steadily over the past two years. The overcrowding situation in the Emergency Department has reached crisis levels, the psychiatric unit is seriously understaffed and waiting lists are completely out of control. We were promised a fresh new approach from Minister Leo Varadkar when he took on the job last year but things have actually gone from bad to worse.
“These figures confirm the seriousness of the situation at UHG and they make for extremely worrying reading; 549 people waiting over 18 months for an inpatient procedure – a 68% increase in a month, and 2,496 patients waiting more than a year and a half for an outpatient appointment. These are the worst figures in the country – and are a national scandal.
“In an attempt to cover up the grave reality of the situation in our country’s hospitals, Minister Leo Varadkar increased the target times for in- and outpatient waiting lists to 18 months. The figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund show that things are much worse now than they were in UHG and other hospitals when the Minister moved into the Department. Essentially all he has done to address the waiting list disaster is to abandon his predecessor’s targets and diminish expectations. Patients in Galway and around the country deserve so much better.
“University Hospital Galway is now facing a fine of over €1m because of the length of waiting lists. This will heap even more pressure on a hospital that is already struggling to cope with the demands being placed on it. The problem stems from the Health Minister’s inability to secure a realistic budget for the health service in the first place and now patients are paying the price. The situation will deteriorate even more rapidly if more funds are diverted away from the hospital’s services. Patients have heard enough commentary from the Minister; he needs to take real action. We are heading into a busy winter period and unless Minister Varadkar secures a realistic health budget, patients will be unable to have any confidence in the Minister or the service”.