FIANNA Fáil TD for Donegal North East Charlie McConalogue is accusing the Health Minister of standing back and allowing hospital waiting lists to spiral out of control.
He was responding to the latest figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund, which reveal massive increases in waiting lists across the country, including Letterkenny General Hospital.
At the end of July there were over 2,300 people waiting more than a year for an appointment at Letterkenny General – that’s a 209 per cent increase since January.
Deputy McConalogue commented: “The figures highlight the Government’s failure in tackling the crisis in our health service. Despite a series of promises and announcements that waiting lists are reducing, the statistics from the NTPF reveal the real story. Not only is the number of people on the waiting lists increasing, the waiting times themselves are also on the rise. In the first seven months of the year, the number of people waiting more than six months for an outpatient appointment at Letterkenny General Hospital hit 13,000 – an increase of almost 2,000. During the same period, the number of patients on a waiting list for over a year soared by over 200 per cent to 2,333.
He continued: “I am extremely concerned that this situation will deteriorate further as the cuts to the health service begin to filter through. €200m is being slashed from hospital budgets this year, which will force additional service cutbacks in an already pressurised system.
“The Taoiseach has consistently claimed that significant progress has been made on the waiting list issue. These figures should act as a wake-up call to the reality of the situation. Despite the rhetoric of the past 3 and a half years, there’s been a significant upsurge in waiting lists and times. Minister Varadkar needs to stop believing his Government’s spin and wake up to this crisis which is now impacting on every hospital in this city. It is unacceptable that people are left months, and even years to see a doctor in their local hospital. This practice is not only unfair; it is dangerous and must be urgently addressed.
Deputy McConalogue concluded: “The Minister cannot continue with this Government’s flawed approach to the health service. We need a realistic Budget, instead of the back of the envelope estimates, which have been presented over the past three years. It remains to be seen if the Minister and the Government has the courage or the conviction to fulfil their pre-election promises.”