IT is hard to argue with the call from the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation for at least an extra 1,000 public hospital beds to deal with lengthening waiting lists. Today there are more than 412,400 people waiting to see a consultant at an outpatient clinic for an initial consultation, this is the highest figure on record.
There are 778 patients waiting over four years to be seen at a hospital outpatient clinic and over 83,300 are waiting a year or more to be seen. As if those figures were not damming enough a further 67,100 adults or children are waiting for inpatient treatment.
These are the statistics of failure and that it is so very difficult to resolve the issues that generate them is one of the great problems besetting this and nearly every Western society. Health minister after minister has tried to move this seemingly immoveable object but the problem persists.
This reality may be the subtext of Health Minister Leo Varadkar’s assertion yesterday that he would prefer to have more staff in the health service rather than fewer personnel earning more money. Essentially he was asking which we thought more important: improving health services for the benefit of everyone or improving the pay of a relatively small but important group. How we answer that defining question will indicate if this is really a society or if we have learnt the lesson so painfully imposed over recent years.
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