Delays in outpatient services in Donegal have been labelled as ‘totally unacceptable’ after revelations that more than 1,442 people are on waiting lists for over two years.
There are 94 people in the county who are waiting for longer than 3 years to obtain an outpatient appointment.
The figures show that ‘all current and existing policies are simply not working’, according to Donegal Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher.
Deputy Gallagher pointed out that there are over 47,000 people nationally waiting for outpatient appointments for more than two years.
“Last month we saw outpatient waiting lists hit another all-time high with 515,547 waiting to be seen, we now know that 38,354 are waiting over two years, 8,617 are waiting three to four years and that 568 are waiting four or more years for treatment,” Deputy Gallagher said.
“For any person to wait greater than four years for treatment is shocking, even a delay of two years or more is totally unacceptable; the level of deterioration that can occur in that time is oftentimes irreversible and can have devastating effects on the patients.
“Non-acute patients are being left high and dry by a system that that simply can’t cope nor is there any strategy put in place by the HSE and Government to adequately cater for this growing crisis,” he said.
Mr Gallagher added his concerns about the 30,000 people who were removed from waiting lists through a recent HSE validation process.
He stated: “While I absolutely acknowledge that lists need to be accurate, we have heard from GP representatives who reported that doctors are inundated with hundreds of letters every week due to the validation exercise and that it has created more barriers and bureaucracy.
“The National Treatment Purchase Fund which was originally established by Fianna Fáil and was successful in reducing waiting times was criticised by former Health Minister, James Reilly and indeed it was for a duration, cancelled by him. We now see that it is the only effective show in town when it comes to reducing waiting lists for patients.
“We are exiting 2018 as we entered it, with record numbers on trolleys and record numbers on waiting lists”, concluded Pat the Cope.