Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has said that waiting list figures released by the National Treatment Purchase Fund show the urgent need for a healthcare catch-up programme.
Speaking this morning, Teachta Cullinane said: “The latest waiting list figures released by the NTPF show that up until the end of June, 84,223 patients were waiting for an appointment for inpatient or day case treatment.
“35,878 patients were waiting to receive an appointment for their GI Endoscopy, while a staggering 584,398 patients were waiting for a first hospital outpatient consultation.
“Even more worrying is that 131,134 patients are waiting 18 months or more simply to see a consultant.
“Covid-19 has exposed the deep crisis and lack of capacity in our acute hospital settings. The additional frontline staff brought in to the public system to help fight the virus must be retained and offered full-time contracts.
“There is also an urgent need for a roadmap to reopen all forms of healthcare. This must involve restarting all screening services, a catch-up programme for missed care, mental health services, and a plan for each acute hospital.
“Longer term, there is a need for a fresh plan for healthcare. No more can we tolerate a recruitment and retention embargo for frontline staff or long delays for capital projects. No more can we tolerate long wait times due to Government inaction.
“Our frontline staff have been tremendous in combating this virus and keeping patients safe. It is vital that in the short term we put in place a plan that is mindful of the pressures healthcare professionals are under as well as preparing for a potential second wave of Covid-19 or a winter surge.
“Minister Stephen Donnelly needs to step up to the plate. We need to urgently see his plan and roadmap for reopening our healthcare system and how he plans addressing the issue of missed care due to Covid-19. I will be raising these matters in the Dáil next week directly with Minister Donnelly.”