According to Social Democrats co-leader, Róisín Shortall TD, “today’s shocking hospital waiting lists of 687,000 people are a new record and represent a huge failing on the part of Government.  Providing a decent health service where people can get timely treatment, on the basis of need, is a basic requirement of any civilised country.  Yet for people who depend on the public health system, things are getting progressively worse by the month.”

“There is little sense of urgency on the part of the Taoiseach or the Minister for Health about the fact that so many people are denied access to critical services, resulting in huge human suffering and distress, and in some cases, avoidable death.”

“It is patently clear that the stop-start approach to hospital waiting lists has failed dismally.  Ad-hoc ministerial initiatives have had no lasting impact.  What is required is fundamental reform of the way we provide healthcare and an end to the inefficient and inequitable two-tier system”, said Deputy Shortall.

The all-party Committee on the Future of Healthcare made a number of specific recommendations in respect of hospital waiting lists, key among them are:

  1.  Abolish the private-patient income targets for public hospitals as these incentivise the admission of private patients over public patients in public hospitals.  The spare capacity in private hospitals can be used for private patients while public beds will be freed up for public patients.
  2.  Deal with the 500+ delayed discharges by funding adequate homecare services and step-down facilities.  The freeing up of these beds would allow significant progress to be made in tackling the waiting lists.
  3. Designate one hospital in each hospital group for elective-only work without the pressure of EDs or the complications of hospital infections.
  4. Accelerate the process of moving diagnostics and chronic disease management into the community and incentivise primary care staff to do this work and thereby take pressure off hospitals.
 “All of these actions, and more, are outlined in the Slaintecare report.  It is now time for the Taoiseach to adopt the report, establish the Implementation Office and start the process of real reform”, concluded Deputy Shortall.

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