THERE has been a shocking 72% increase in waiting lists at Letterkenny General Hospital, Fianna Fail TD for Donegal Charlie McConalogue said today.
He says the Health Minister Leo Varadkar must step up to the mark and secure a credible health budget next month amid what he claims is its failure to adequately invest in Letterkenny which has resulted in vastly reduced services and escalating waiting lists for assessment and procedures.
Deputy McConalogue told Donegal Daily: “Health services in Donegal have seriously deteriorated over the past four years as a result of the complete mismanagement of health budgets under Ministers James Reilly and Leo Varadkar.
“The budgets for acute hospitals were completely inadequate and have led to a surge in waiting lists for a range of services across hospital and community services. The latest outpatient waiting list figures paint a particularly bleak picture.
“There are now over 4,000 people waiting more than 12 months for an outpatient appointment. That’s a 72% jump in the number since this time last year. This is a scandalous situation, which has been worsening month on month; however we haven’t seen any plan from the Minister or the Government to tackle it.
“Rheumatology services were transferred to Manorhamilton, and despite promises to reinstate them, no consultant has been appointed to allow this to happen. Dozens of patients, many of whom are dealing with painful conditions, are forced to travel to Co. Leitrim for services which had been previously available in Donegal.
“Patients in Donegal have been effectively abandoned by this Government. Service levels have been drastically reduced with little prospect of improvements any time soon. Despite repeated assurances with regard to rheumatology we are still dealing with a situation where patients are forced to travel for treatment. Aside from his regular photo ops in hospitals, Minister Varadkar has failed to grasp the reality that the deteriorating situation at Letterkenny and other hospitals is firmly under his control.
“Minister Varadkar has managed to detach himself from his brief, preferring to act as an observer and commentator, rather than taking responsibility for the dire situation the health service has found itself in under his watch. It is time for the Minister to take control and demand a more realistic Budget for health next month. Unless he steps up to the mark, patients in Letterkenny will continue to experience second rate health service.”