1 million patient appointments outstanding, says Fianna Fáil

Health Minister Simon Harris will publish the Slaintecare Implementation Strategy on Wednesday

By Juno McEnroe and Fiachra Ó Cionnaith

The scale of the health waiting lists crisis has been laid bare by Fianna Fáil, which estimates 1m patient appointments were outstanding this year. The situation is a “national scandal”, says the party.

“The very fact that there are almost 1m people waiting for an appointment speaks for itself,” said Fianna Fáil’s deputy leader Dara Calleary. “Never before have we seen a situation whereby people have been failed so badly by a government.”

The focus on waiting list numbers comes as the Government sets out elements of a long-awaited health reform strategy today.

Health Minister Simon Harris will publish the Slaintecare Implementation Strategy, the cross-party plan which sets out a vision for the future of healthcare over 10 years. It will set out goals and actions over the first three years.

Fianna Fáil said the vast majority of the 1m outstanding patient appointment numbers is based on the national treatment purchase fund monthly lists. In June, 717,419 were on the lists compiled by the fund. However, this does not include some scan waiting lists, it said.

The latest figures showed a further 135,000 waiting for MRIs, ultrasounds, and CT scans.

There are also significant waiting lists for community care,” said Mr Calleary. “There are 37,229 people waiting for either speech and language therapy or assessment in June 2018.

A further 31,361 were waiting for an occupational therapy assessment in the same month in April, it was added.

A full list breaking down the estimated 997,258 patient appointments outstanding in the first half of 2018 has been compiled by the opposition party.

The scale of these waiting lists is truly shocking and highlights very clearly the level of demand and the lack of capacity available to meet it,” said Mr Calleary.

“There will be no improvement in the situation unless there is investment in capacity and, as our population continues to live longer, it poses more serious issues for our health service. The ESRI has projected that demand for public hospital services could increase by up to 37% for inpatient bed days by 2030. The time for grand plans, staged strategies and PR launches is over. What we need now is action.”

The Slaintecare Implementation Strategy today will include a commitment that within thee months its new director will return with a detailed plan.

The Government has promised better governance of the HSE, including the establishment of a board. There are also plans to expand capacity across community and acute hospital sectors with new elective-only facilities — a key Sláintecare recommendation.

More on this topic

Elderly man with serious heart condition waiting on hospital trolley since Sunday

'Borderline elder abuse': FF's Stephen Donnelly slams trolley figures

Overall number of people on hospital waiting lists falls in October

342 people waiting on hospital trolleys today

More in this Section

One winner of Lotto jackpot worth over €6m

Banbridge pipe bomb incident condemned

Three men charged over ATM raids

Polls show increased support for Green Party ahead of local and European elections


Lifestyle

Life on Earth is not as plentiful and may soon be extinct

Aonghus the white-tailed sea eagle has fans intrigued

Recalling genius of the German super man

Islands of Ireland: Under Quarantine in West Cork

More From The Irish Examiner