Thursday, 29 April 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I thank the Minister of State for her reply. While I welcome the facts that she laid out, the additional funding will not be transformative enough to reduce the waiting lists dramatically. That is the sad reality.
As Deputy Cahill alluded, and speaking as a former patient myself, the ethos in Cappagh hospital is one of can do, will do. It wants to carry out more procedures and treat more patients but it needs additional theatre capacity and bed capacity. It has to replace some of its outdated existing accommodation and, of course, Covid imposes extra requirements. The hospital wants to meet all the necessary accommodation requirements.
I know some of the children who are on the waiting lists. I am conscious of their suffering and the distress and worry caused to their parents by the long waiting lists to access much-needed treatment. I spoke to the mother of a 14-year-old who was waiting for treatment. I discussed the case with that young boy's mother again last Sunday morning. She said that he had gone back to school. He is not mobile. His friends are participating in their sports but he is not because he cannot get the treatment and surgery he needs. Sadly, there are hundreds of other children in the same predicament. Cappagh hospital has top-class clinicians and support staff who want to treat them, carry out their procedures and give them the quality of life they need, the quality of life that we want to see every child in the country have.
As Deputy Cahill stated, a detailed and costed proposal is with the Department. It could be transformative if the additional capacity was provided. Cappagh hospital is not crying out for additional staff. Rather, it is crying out for additional accommodation in order that it can do more work to ease the pain and suffering of children and adults throughout this country. It is the national orthopaedic centre. It treats patients from every county in our State. We need to give it the resources and capacity that would allow it to reduce waiting lists dramatically. None of us wants to meet in our clinics or talk on the phone to people of all age groups who are suffering and immobile. It is not good enough.
While we know the hardship and suffering that the pandemic has brought to this country and to so many families, the Taoiseach has rightly suggested that it might transform how we deliver healthcare. Let us be transformative and put in place the investment and facilities to ensure that a better quality of life is provided to these people, in particular the children waiting for treatment.