Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD said the latest data from the National Treatment Purchase Fund shows health waiting lists are continuing to spiral out of control.
These problems pre-date Covid, and the NTPF data sets out the stark reality.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“In October 2016, the number of people on outpatient waiting lists was 438,931. This had grown to 567,221 by September 2019 and now stands at 612,817
“Of that, the number of patients waiting 18 months or longer since 2016 has risen from 26,796 to 153,872. That is an increase of 127,076 patients over four years.
“The numbers waiting 18 months or longer for an inpatient procedure have risen from 4,733 to 8,498 in the last year.
“I have had many people come to me, and have heard similar from other TDs, to tell of their experiences.
“One is an elderly woman who has been waiting more than two years to see a pain specialist.
“She is one of 12,036 on the waiting list and of 3,951 eople who are waiting more than 18 months for this.
“Several constituents who came to me are part of 7,963 waiting more than a year on a cardiology appointment.
“Cardiovascular problems are, alongside cancer, the leading cause of death in this state. Yet the number of people waiting more than a year has doubled in the last four years.
“Despite all of the spin, wait times are going up year-on-year, and this is not Covid-related.
“Treatment for scoliosis in children and cancer services – medical, radiology and surgery oncology – are also down nearly 30% this year.
“Parents are extremely concerned about their children as delay has a significant effect on their condition. This is the same for cancer.
“Spiralling waiting lists precede Covid but the volume of missed care is now compounding the problem. There are still no hard, real plans for delivering the necessary number of beds, staff, and recruiting and retaining more consultants.
“I set out a plan in August for delivering capacity expansion through rapid-build modular units and resolving pay inequality for consultants and other healthcare professionals.
“We also need to see serious capital investment to increase capacity at Acute hospitals. Today we learn that despite repeated warnings to the Minister for Health and the HSE failure to fund refurbishment works at the Rotunda is the cause of a patient safety crisis at the maternity hospital.
“We need to get real about investing in health or we will continue to cause more suffering and hardship for people in need of urgent treatment.”