Tuesday, 28 September 2021
Hospital Waiting Lists: Motion [Private Members]
I listened to the Minister earlier and I think the biggest challenge he faces is that no one believes him. I am not talking about people on these benches; I think the people who are on the waiting lists do not believe him. We have a broken health system, and that is a big problem. We heard the numbers earlier: 900,000 of our citizens are on waiting lists. That is a staggering statistic. One in five people is on a waiting list for some form of healthcare. There are 36,000 people on the outpatient waiting list of Tallaght University Hospital. That is just one hospital. Of those 36,000, 12,000 have been waiting more than 18 months. That is not acceptable. Fine Gael has been in power for ten years. It has made zero progress in improving the waiting lists, and there is no real sign I can see that anything has changed. Waiting lists are up 15% since the beginning of the pandemic, and we heard the reasons the Government outlined tonight, but they have almost doubled since 2014. It is unacceptable that sick people who require urgent care are left in limbo for years waiting to see a hospital consultant. Of course, if you have money, you can skip the queue, and that is not right. Without urgently hiring key staff to fill posts, the problems will only get worse.
The health service needs major investment to boost capacity if it is to take on the waiting lists. The Government must use budget 2022 to drive money into targeted areas of the health service to seriously tackle waiting lists and overcrowding. We will hear about the biggest health budget ever, but that is irrelevant unless it is targeted and spent wisely. We are playing catch-up as our population grows every year. We need to spend more every year just to stand still. That is why we need targeted investment in key areas, as outlined in our motion. We need delivery of a major increase in beds, staff and diagnostic capacity to meet current needs and tackle waiting lists. We must introduce a centralised referral system and an integrated waiting list management system. We need a 21st-century health system. We cannot leave sick people on waiting lists for months and years and when they need vital treatment. We cannot consign them to a life of pain and suffering and a broken health service. The Minister has a big job ahead of him, but that is the reality.