Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has criticised the Minister for Health’s Waiting List Action Plan for a lack of detail on critical measures, including a plan for emergency department overflows disrupting scheduled care.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“The Waiting List Action Plan which the Minister for Health has published does not allay the serious concerns I have about the rocky winter ahead of us.
“Every year, winter brings emergency department overflows which severely disrupt scheduled care.
“This is a major driver of waiting lists as hospitals do not have the capacity to deliver scheduled and unscheduled care at the same time.
“We already have more than 450 people waiting for a bed, generally on trolleys, as per the INMO’s trolley watch.
“The major hospitals in Limerick, Cork and Galway are already experiencing high trolley numbers and there is no plan to deal with this.
“ED overcrowding needs to be factored into any plan and targets, but it is only referenced once in this regard.
“There is no detail on capacity boosting measures to compensate for ED overcrowding.
“As welcome as it is for year-end plan, we need a multi-year plan capacity and reduction strategy.
“This plan must be published urgently, and it must detail timelines and costs for system change.
“The detail lacking in this plan includes delivery of unique patient identifiers, a centralised referral system,and an integrated waiting list management system.
“We also need to see commitments to the consistent addition of capacity in beds, staff, theatre space, and diagnostics, and a plan for updating and validating the entire waiting lists to ensure we are working on accurate data.
“The Minister’s short-term plan, while it is a start, is seriously lacking credibility in terms of detail and a plan for emergency department overflows.
“I fear any reduction in waiting lists will solely be down to data validation and removing duplicates, which is important but does not deal with the core problems of capacity.”