“The experience of daily suffering behind these waiting list numbers is appalling – the longer people wait for procedures, the more their health deteriorates, and the end result is extra cost to the health service when people have to resort to emergency medicine.”

Commenting on this morning’s record figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund showing 718,165 patients on hospital waiting lists, Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD said:

“The experience of daily suffering behind these waiting list numbers is appalling – the longer people wait for procedures, the more their health deteriorates, and the end result is extra cost to the health service when people have to resort to emergency medicine.

“The endless cycle of upwardly spiralling waiting lists is inexcusable for a government that is two and a half years in office. There is simply not enough urgency in getting to grips with the blockages and capacity needs within the health system.

“The answers are staring the government in the face – fund homecare; make diagnostic facilities available at primary care level; ensure more efficient use of beds within hospital groups; consider designating some hospitals as elective only and provide the promised additional hospital beds. The immediate response must be to free up the 600 to 700 beds that are occupied at any one time by patients who are ready to be discharged. Urgent funding must be provided for home care packages and step-down facilities.”

Deputy Shortall pointed to the example of Scotland where the NHS bought a private hospital and made it operational for elective treatment only. She added:

“This model has been so successful that the Scottish authorities are now building another elective-only hospital. Yet in the recent Sláintecare Implementation Strategy the government says that it plans to only select locations for three new elective hospitals and start the planning processes in 2021.

“Faced with such critical need, this sluggish response is indicative of a government that is floundering when it comes to the multiple crises in our health system.”

ENDS

14 September 2018