Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has remarked that the rise in the number of patients on hospital waiting lists is due to unresolved legacy issues which have been brewing for decades, and is part of a wider trend with more than 1.3 million people on some form of health waiting list.
He said that the health service is facing growing difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff to tackle community, hospital and diagnostic waiting lists due to a lack of graduates and more appealing options abroad.
The TD for Waterford said that the rise in waiting lists will continue without a long-term plan from the Minister for Health which deals with staffing, Emergency Departments, new contracts and old promises.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“Hospital waiting lists are up nearly 5,000 from April to May, and are up more than 90,000 on this time two years ago.
“Despite the large budget allocated to the HSE and the NTPF for waiting lists, they are continuing to rise, with more than 1.3 million people on lists when you include community and diagnostic services, which are not reported by the NTPF.
“The Minister for Health has launched his 2022 Sláintecare plan, six months into the year, and recently published a short-term waiting list plan, but neither deal with the core issues.
“The legacy issues facing the health service – outdated contracts with doctors, non-consultants on the verge of strike action, a dispute with medical scientists dragging on for 20 years, and a lack of capacity in most major hospitals, to name but a few are preventing making real inroads into waiting lists.
“Just this week, we saw the Mater warning patients away from their Emergency Department, and there are hundreds of patients on trolleys across hospitals in June.
“There are more than 800 permanent consultant posts which are either vacant or temporarily filled, more than 400 doctors moved to Australia alone last year, there are more than 400,000 unfilled therapy hours for children with disabilities, and most people cannot get their full home support allocations.
“The health service is creaking because the core problems are still the same. To add insult to injury, many healthcare workers are still without their Covid-19 pandemic bonus.
“We also need to better equip the existing workforce with proper IT systems, more equipment, and theatre space to make better use of their time.
“The health service needs a real plan to expand capacity quicker, conclude the new consultant contract, implement the safe staffing and skills framework, and train and retain enough staff to fill posts in the health service.”