September 23, 2021
Shocking deterioration of patients’ physical and mental health highlights impact of lengthy healthcare waiting lists – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has demanded the government take action to address healthcare waiting lists, which have spiralled out of control for far too long.

Teachta Cullinane today launched the results of Sinn Féin’s Healthcare Waiting List Experience Survey, which looked at the problems created for patients by excessive waiting lists and delays to universal healthcare. More than 600 people took part in the survey and the results expose the devastating impact that long waiting lists have on patients’ physical and mental health.

Key findings from survey include:

–  More than 70% of respondents indicated that they have been considerably or severely affected by the length of their wait,

–  70% also indicated that their mental health has severely or considerably deteriorated as a result of long wait times,

–  More than half (56.25%) experienced stress or anxiety as a result, with 45% indicating a notable negative impact on their quality of life.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“Waiting lists have been allowed to spiral over the last decade due to chronic underfunding and neglect by Government.

“With more than 900,000 on waiting lists this crisis cannot be allowed to continue any longer.

“One major cause of these waiting lists is the Government’s failure to fix the consultant recruitment crisis – 1 in 5 consultant posts are either vacant or filled on a temporary basis despite a sufficient graduate outturn from our education system.1

“To hear from the worst affected, we conducted an online survey between May and August to hear directly from patients on waiting lists and their families. The results expose the shocking reality of the human impact of these outrageous waiting lists. Far too many people feel their lives have been devastated and left on hold, while they wait for vital treatment.

“The results are stark with more than 70% reporting a deterioration in both their condition and mental health, including a rise in stress and anxiety and a notable decrease in quality of life.

“The results illustrate very clearly the fact that care delayed is care denied, with severe consequences for patients and their families.

“Behind every statistic is a person who is feeling the very real impact of this government’s failure to create the healthcare system that Ireland needs.

“Some of the stories make for shocking reading. People shared their experiences of having to leave their job or drop out of college because their condition continued to go untreated while they waited in limbo on a waiting list. Devastatingly, some respondents spoke of feeling suicidal at times, such was the extent of the hopelessness and despair they began to feel about their situation.

“Parents shared heart breaking stories of seeing their children suffer in pain for years, while they waited to see a specialist for a chronic condition. In a modern, wealthy country, this should not be happening.

“We need a new practical, realistic, and deliverable plan to build an Irish National Health Service over the next 10 years to tackle waiting lists and the cost of care.

“I will be outlining Sinn Féin’s plan to deliver this over two terms of Government when we launch our Alternative Budget for Health in the coming weeks.

“Sinn Féin will stand up for people on waiting lists, to ensure that they get the timely treatment they need. The issues are considerable but with the right determination, commitment and delivery, we can change our healthcare system so that it is fit for purpose. Failure to act will only mean waiting lists spiral even further and patients across the state will continue to suffer.

“Sinn Féin has a plan and the commitment to deliver this much-needed and long overdue change.”

The survey results are available to view at this link

1 – PQ 43289/2 HSE Response available on request


The main findings also include:

§  97.18% do not believe that Government is doing enough to tackle waiting lists

§  87.28% are currently on HSE waiting list

§  59.32% have been on HSE waiting list for 18+ months

§  83.73% do not have private health insurance

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