Dáil debates

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Hospital Waiting Lists: Motion [Private Members]


7:35 pm

Photo of Martin KennyMartin Kenny (Sligo-Leitrim, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

The issue here is about capacity more than anything else, and that is the same in every hospital in the State. I am very conscious, especially in Sligo University Hospital, that we have a situation where people are waiting on wards but they cannot get in. They are being sent to a four-bed ward with six beds in it. It does not have the capacity or the staff. It is the same in the emergency department, which is overrun and has not got the staff. This issue needs to be dealt with. At the moment, in the Saolta University Health Care Group, there are 54 vacant consultant posts. I am sure that is the same in every other region in the country. This is the core of the problem. The investment is not being put in to employ the necessary staff to deal with this issue.

Our hospitals are all running at more than 100% capacity most of the time. Internationally, it is said that they should be at approximately 70% capacity to deal with the surge, when it comes. The problem we have here is that the private system is being used to back up a public system that is in decline. The Minister needs to get a grip on this and put that public system back on the agenda as being the priority. That is clearly what needs to happen. There needs to be a centralised system for waiting lists to ensure people can be seen as quickly as possible in whatever hospital there is an available appointment in. We have solutions and we need to have those solutions delivered. As long as the Government continues to go down the track of using the private system to back up the public system, however, it is not going to work. There needs to be a clear division as to where we are going to go to get on the right track.

The Sláintecare resignations are a reflection of the frustration felt by the people who were on those boards. They want to deliver Sláintecare. They see the potential of it and yet they see it being held up by the Minister and others in the Department who simply have not got it in them to stand up to vested interests and ensure we deliver for our people. That is what this is about. We have to deliver for the ordinary people out there who are on these waiting lists, in pain and distress, not for months but for years in many cases. I know many people in my constituency who are in that situation. It is simply not right. There is right and left in everything when we talk politics but there is also right and wrong. This is a situation of right and wrong. Until the Minister and this Government are prepared to stand up for the people and ensure we deliver, this health service is going down the tubes.


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