30/06/2014

Health Minister Accused Of 'Failing Patients'

The continued increase in outpatient waiting lists has been described as "further proof" that Minister for Health James Reilly is failing patients, Fianna Fáil has said.

The party's spokesperson on Mental Health Colm Keaveney made his the comments in reponse to new figures that show that almost 339,000 people are on outpatient waiting lists for an appointment to see a consultant.

"These numbers are a damning indictment of Minister Reilly’s stewardship of the health service," Deputy Keaveney said.

Adding: "What we’re seeing here is waiting list numbers dramatically increasing month on month, despite his claims that the HSE is running a more efficient system.  The figures speak for themselves, and illustrate the magnitude of the Minister’s mishandling of hospital services.

"The number of people waiting more than a year to be seen has jumped from 9,604 in January this year to 22,746 in April.  Almost 2,000 of those patients are children.  The Minister has a habit of dismissing these increases, attributing them to seasonal fluctuations, but we cannot ignore the fact that hospital budgets have been slashed by €200m this year.  Minister Reilly’s complete mishandling of his department’s finances has led to substantial budget cuts across the health service, and the increased waiting lists are a direct result of these reductions.

"I’m becoming increasingly worried about the diminution of resources in hospitals around the country.  There is no doubt that the hospital cuts outlined in the HSE Service Plan are hitting patients hard and the situation looks set to get even worse, as the Minster himself admitted that the HSE is already reporting a net deficit of €158m at the end of May.  This overrun has the potential to necessitate further cost containment measures, which are likely to have an impact on patient services and care."

(MH/CD)

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