By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith
The Government is facing fresh claims that it is failing to address spiralling health waiting list delays after a patient was told a hospital could not see him for a neurological condition until at least 2024.
Labour leader Brendan Howlin revealed the situation as Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said latest figures show almost 52,000 children are now waiting for some form of hospital care.
Speaking during a Dáil debate, Mr Howlin said the health service was continuing to suffer from serious problems that were failing to be addressed.
Taking out a letter sent to a Co Wexford constituent — 49-year-old Matthias Kausch, who moved here from Germany in 2001 — Mr Howlin said some people were being told they must wait six years for help.
“Yesterday, I was contacted by a constituent who got a letter from the hospital on February 14 stating an appointment had been arranged on January 1, 2024,” said Mr Howlin.
“That is six years from now. What is happening with outpatient appointments?”
Mr Varadkar responded to the letter by telling the Dáil, “I imagine or suspect that is an error”, saying he had never heard of such a long delay.
In response to the numbers of children waiting for appointments, Mr Varadkar told Mr Martin “the Government certainly does not wish to see anyone, child or adults, waiting long periods for treatment” and that figures for some specialisms are reducing.
However, he said the HSE has confirmed there have been “challenges in reducing outpatient waiting times due to difficulties recruiting consultants”, and that the issue still needs to be addressed.
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.