Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD today raised the spiralling waiting lists with the HSE at the Health Committee.
These problems pre-date Covid, and the NTPF data sets out the stark reality.
Teachta Cullinane said: “In September 2016, the number of people on outpatient waiting lists was 438,267. This had grown to 568,769 by September 2019.
“Since then, it has ballooned to 612,083 people waiting to see a consultant in September 2020. That is an increase of 173,816 in four years.
“Of that, the number of patients waiting 18 months or longer, has risen from 24,994 to 149,497. That is an increase of 500% over four years.
“The numbers waiting 18 months or longer for an inpatient procedure have risen from 4,841 to 8,124 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 12,289 on the waiting list and of 4,097 people who are waiting more than 18 months for this. That has increased from 241 people in 2016.
“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.
“There is a system capacity problem which has not been addressed. The massive catch-up care which will be needed cannot be addressed without fixing this too.
“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 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.”