Tuesday, 28 September 2021
Hospital Waiting Lists: Motion [Private Members]
I thank the Minister for his opening remarks. It is good to see him and both Ministers of State here for the debate.
I will begin by reading from statements I received in recent weeks in the context of a survey. They are the stories of people. One woman said she is a full-time carer, a single mother of two boys with special needs, who has been waiting five years to see a consultant. She stated she does not get respite or home help. Another mother said her child's teeth are severely out of shape and now, at 13 years of age, is the optimal time to fix them, but the HSE waiting list extends to at least four years. She said her daughter's confidence has been severely affected. A third respondent stated they had been waiting four and a half years to see a consultant about carpal tunnel syndrome. The person saw a consultant in May and was told they urgently needed surgery, which they would receive by the end of June. They were still waiting at the end of August.
Sláintecare called for maximum waiting times of 12 weeks for inpatient procedures, but in Cork, 645 adult patients have now been waiting more than 18 months. The total number of patients, both adults and children, on waiting lists in Cork for inpatient or day care stands at 4,846. Sláintecare also called for maximum outpatient waiting times of ten weeks. The total number in Cork on waiting lists, between adults and children, is 66,299. Behind those figures are people who are feeling the impact of the HSE's failures and of the health service crumbling. In a recent survey, more than 70% of people reported physical or mental health issues, including increases in stress and anxiety.
I am glad both Ministers of State are here. The HSE wants to close the Owenacurra mental health centre in Midleton, in the middle of a pandemic, when we have been talking so often about mental health. I hope the Ministers of State will revert to me in respect of my request for a meeting to discuss that. Families need help now. We need to create a national health service with a deliverable plan to tackle these long waiting lists. There is a national emergency and the Government should recognise this.