Donegal North East deputy Charlie McConalogue says patients in Donegal are being failed by the lack of Government action in tackling hospital waiting lists in the region – after he obtained shocking new waiting list figures.
The latest figures from the HSE reveal that 2,441 people were waiting more than a year for an outpatient appointment at Letterkenny General Hospital in August.
That’s an increase of more than 100 on July’s figures, and a jump of almost 1,500 in the past six months.
Deputy McConalogue said today: “I am extremely concerned about the rising waiting lists at Letterkenny General Hospital, but am even more worried about the Minister’s lax attitude to the situation. Leo Varadkar has all but conceded that waiting lists will get worse before they get better.
“What will that mean for people in Donegal? Thousands are already waiting more than 12 months to be seen. Are they now expected to wait for years rather than months?
“The Minister’s plan will see hundreds if not thousands more people languishing on lists, and there seems to be no clear policy in place to tackle the problem. In the past six months there has been a 152.4% jump in the number of people waiting for an outpatient appointment at Letterkenny General. That’s an increase of 1,474 people in a 26 week timeframe. Outside of the main city hospitals, Letterkenny has the largest waiting list in the country for outpatient appointments.
“The flawed HSE Service Plan, brought in last year, is no doubt having a major impact on these lists. €200m was slashed from hospital budgets this year, resulting in the reduction and downgrading of services. We’re still waiting to see the plan for 2015, which is due to be published next month. However, if the Minister’s comments are a sign of things to come, I am extremely concerned about the standard of healthcare that people in the North West can expect.
“It is essential that the HSE comes up with a workable service plan for 2015 because the current situation is failing people in Letterkenny and is undermining patient safety. It is unacceptable to allow these already exorbitant waiting lists to continue to increase, and a conscious effort must be made to ensure that proper resources and budgets are allocated to Letterkenny General so that these waiting lists can be effectively targeted”.