Dáil debates

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Hospital Waiting Lists: Motion [Private Members]


8:55 pm

Photo of Marian HarkinMarian Harkin (Sligo-Leitrim, Independent) | Oireachtas source

The number of men, women and children on waiting lists is truly shocking. I do not use that word lightly or often but "shocking" is an appropriate word to describe the fact that nearly 18% of our population is on a healthcare waiting list. I thank Sinn Féin for bringing forward this motion.

While the national figures are stark, the figures in the north west, at Sligo University Hospital and Letterkenny, which has already been mentioned, are dreadful. They are among the worst in the country. Trolley Watch figures for today show that the total number without beds in Sligo University Hospital is 18 and in Letterkenny it is 42. To put those figures in perspective, out of 32 hospitals nationally, Letterkenny is third worst and Sligo is seventh worst. In case those figures were an aberration, I looked at the figures for August and May of this year. I did not choose those, but just took them out of the figures to get a more complete picture. In August, Sligo had the fourth highest numbers waiting for a bed in the hospital, and in May, it was the third highest nationally. Those figures are unacceptable. Every one represents a father, daughter, grandmother, cousin, aunt or husband waiting for a diagnosis or treatment. In some cases it is life-threatening, in many it is life-limiting and it always impacts negatively on a person's health and quality of life.

I read the countermotion and it lists a number of contributing factors to the waiting lists. For example, Covid. We all recognise its impact but it has simply made a very bad situation much worse. I looked at figures on Trolley Watch from 2006 to 2021 for Sligo and, again, took the month of August. For the first four years, 2006 to 2009, it ranged from 13, lowest, to 70, highest. For the last four years, 2018 to 2021, it ranged from 225 to 484. In other words, it is seven times worse. That is not down to Covid or cyberattacks. It is down to health policy for the last 20 years.

The Minister said he continued to implement Sláintecare yet the two recent high-profile resignations from the Sláintecare board are at least partly due to the non-implementation of a regional strategy. The figures in Sligo and Letterkenny show how urgent such a strategy is. I have real concern we will be left behind again.


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