Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher says Minister Varadkar needs to urgently tackle hospital waiting lists before the crisis spirals out of control. The latest figures reveal there was another increase in the number of patients waiting more than a year for an outpatient appointment. At the end of May there were over 343,000 people on an outpatient list, up from just under 339,000 the previous month.
Deputy Kelleher commented, “These figures reveal the enormous scale of the crisis that Minister Leo Varadkar has inherited from his predecessor. Despite numerous promises and assurances that waiting lists are decreasing, the latest statistics expose the fact that waiting times are actually on the rise. Since February this year, the number of people waiting more than 12 months for an outpatient appointment has increased by over 6%.
“Minister Varadkar has a massive challenge ahead if he is to improve the system. The gross mishandling of the health service over the past three years has resulted in problems that are now ingrained in hospitals across the country. Almost 10 hospitals have waiting lists with more than 1,000 people on them; three of these hospitals have over 3,000 people on their lists.
“I am appalled to learn that some hospitals, such as Tallaght Hospital in Dublin and Waterford Regional Hospital have seen their waiting lists rocket by 200% in the last quarter alone”, Deputy Kelleher added.
“Despite the Government spin that waiting times are falling, the reality is thousands more people are languishing on lengthy lists, being forced to wait for months or even years to get an initial outpatient appointment. There is no doubt that these lists will continue to grow as hospitals are being forced to do more with less. €200m is being slashed from hospital budgets this year alone, a situation which will further exacerbate an already serious situation. The consistent mismanagement of the HSE Budget by Minister Reilly has led to these radical increases in waiting lists.
“Patients are now bearing the brunt of the mistakes made by Minister Reilly. I am extremely concerned that the constraints imposed on hospitals because of budget cutbacks will have even more detrimental implications for patients.
“Hospitals are already under immense pressure, with these figures serving as evidence as to how serious the problem has become. Minister Varadkar must undo the damage his predecessor inflicted on the health service and come up with tangible alternatives. If he doesn’t, patient services and care will be put at real risk”.