Dáil debates

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Hospital Waiting Lists: Motion [Private Members]


8:35 pm

Photo of Michael CollinsMichael Collins (Cork South West, Independent) | Oireachtas source

We have massive waiting lists in this country. There is no point in my saying any different because that is quite evident. The lists are, unfortunately, growing. People are waiting for four or five years for a 20- to 25-minute cataract procedure. That cannot be allowed to happen because those people will go blind if some solution is not found. Waiting lists for knee and hip treatments are two to three years. The waiting lists for orthodontic treatment for children go back to 2017. The lists go on and on. I could be here for the next two hours explaining the crisis. People are not waiting just five or six months, they are waiting very long periods of time. The health crisis in west Cork is remarkable at this stage. We have a massive crisis and the Minister has been very quiet on the whole issue. Admissions to the accident and emergency department of Bantry General Hospital were closed for 16 days due to a staffing crisis. SouthDoc's after-hours service in Castletownbere has collapsed due to a staffing crisis. The following may be more of an issue for the Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte, who I have emailed about it, but CoAction is closing its residential service. That flies in the face of everything about independent living for people with intellectual disabilities. CoAction in Castletownbere has announced that due to staffing problems, it will close its residential service. That is outrageous. It is an attack on the most vulnerable in society.

One slight solution we have, and it is not the greatest solution in the world, is the Northern Ireland healthcare scheme. There has been no announcement as to whether that scheme is going to continue or not. People do not know if they are going to be blind. They do not know if the Minister is going to pull the plug on the scheme at the end of the year or if it will continue. It is desperately needed. Thousands of people have gone abroad for healthcare under the European cross-border directive. I ask the Minister to announce whether that scheme is going to continue. It has benefited thousands of people in west Cork by allowing them to get their cataract surgery. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae, Councillors Ben Dalton O'Sullivan and Danny Collins, and myself have worked very hard to make sure that people can get to Northern Ireland to get treatment for their hips and knees if they are in desperate situations.


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