Sinn Fein TD Gerry Adams has raised concerns at the “growing numbers of outpatients in Louth on hospital waiting lists” and described the health service as “in a perpetual state of crisis because of the failure of the government to allocate the necessary resources, and engage in the essential restructuring needed, to provide a fit for purpose health service for citizens free at the point of delivery.”
Deputy Adams said,
“The outpatient waiting list for Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda has significantly increased since January of this year. At the end of January 12,087 patients were on the outpatient waiting list.
"That has now increased to 13,561. The number of patients waiting for more than 18 months has also dramatically increased from 72 in January to 726 at the end of September.
"During the same period Louth County Hospital has witnessed a slight drop of just over 100 on the outpatient waiting list from 2849 in January to 2742 at the end of September. However, the number of patients waiting more than a year has increased from 4 to 9.
"The figures for Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda reflect the trend across the state. Almost half a million people – 495,318 – are on the outpatient waiting list.
"The number waiting more than 18 months has increased from 59,483 to 60,971. This is a substantial increase of over fifty thousand from the start of the year.
"At the weekend the President of the Irish Hospitals Consultants Association, Dr Tom Ryan, told their annual conference that that there was ‘a chronic lack of capacity’ within the health system.
"One result of this was that more than 90,000 patients, many of them elderly, received part of their treatment on trolleys.
"The reality is that almost 680,000 citizens are on hospital waiting lists of one kind or another. Apart from those on the outpatient waiting list 83,000 patients are on active inpatients lists awaiting treatment and just over 10,000 patients had their procedures suspended.
"Last week 2,216 patients waited on hospital trolleys and in emergency wards awaiting treatment. This continues the trend we saw in August when there was a 27% increase on admitted patients on trolleys from the previous year.
"In the first eight months of this year 65,455 people, admitted for care, were on trolleys. That’s up 7% on last year.
"The government keeps finding excuses for these increases in citizens trying to excess the health service, including the fact that this state has an aging population.
"After seven years in power Fine Gael has had plenty of time to take account of all of this and prepare a service plan that meets the needs of patients.
"It has failed and keeps failing.
"While the nursing and medical staff do a tremendous job under very difficult circumstances they cannot cope with the mess that successive health policies by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have made of the health service.
"The current tweedledee tweedledum politics of the coalition arrangement between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil has exacerbated the health crisis.”
Deputy Adams concluded,
“In our alternative budget for 2018 Health is Sinn Féin’s number one priority.
"We have published a plan to transform our public health system into the system of choice for patients and staff.
"It includes additional supports for older citizens, increased maternity funding, 500 additional beds to tackle trolley waits, more money for mental health, and prioritising disability services, including additional funding for respite care services.”