Tuesday, 28 September 2021
Hospital Waiting Lists: Motion [Private Members]
I thank Sinn Féin for tabling this motion. The whole idea of Sláintecare was to avoid this. We were supposed to avoid coming into the Chamber to talk about waiting lists while mentioning Galway and every other city. However, one cannot avoid doing that now because Sláintecare has not been implemented. I do not wish to misquote Professor Tom Keane but he said that there was no will and "that the requirements for implementing this unprecedented programme for change are seriously lacking". That is what he said. Laura Magahy is also gone, as is Professor Geraldine McCarthy down in the south west. That is an indication. It is also an indication of the advisory council not functioning to 100% when some of the members did not even know why others were resigning. There are serious questions on every level but there is no doubt in my mind that, as Deputy Shortall already eloquently pointed out, there is no will to implement a public health system, in comparison to the situation in England. We have never made that leap.
I spent ten years of my life on a health forum, from 2006 to 2016, watching the public health service being dismantled every day. Different language was used. We started with "bed refurbishment", when beds were closed. I never heard of "bed refurbishment" until I sat on a health forum and then I saw the systematic wearing away of the public health system and, at the same time, public money going into the private system and it has never stopped.
I will keep to my time and finish on Galway. I will not read out the lists for the orthopaedics. I have read them out so often, including the letter from the consultants, which I always preface by saying consultants rarely write to me but they wrote to say the pain the patients were suffering was unbearable. Respite care has never been restored. We have words like this, straight from Kafka. Regarding agency 1, whoever that is, the waiting list for respite includes 34 children. The waiting list for enhanced features is 14, along with 45 adults, and for enhanced services the figure is 41. The waiting list from agency 2 includes 15 children and 50 waiting for family support. I could go on and on.
I have begged and appealed to Ministers. I have great respect for their efforts, particularly the two junior Ministers, regarding a hands-on approach, but still we have no respite services or day centres restored in Galway. Nobody can explain why. Some 90% are vaccinated. The Government has reached the magical figure and yet we have not restored services. I will be here for the rest of my elected life pointing out that it is intolerable to have people on waiting lists for any length of time while those with private medicine jump the queues. I do not denigrate those with private medicine or private insurance. Every one of us does what he or she has to do in life. The State has to provide public medicine.