Deputy Pearse Doherty has reacted angrily to the latest data on patient waiting list figures which shows that since the start of 2018, there has been a 17% increase in the number of patients waiting 18 months or more for outpatient treatment at Letterkenny University Hospital.
The figures, which have been compiled by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) reveal that as of the end of May, a total of 15,474 patients are awaiting an outpatient appointment, 2,201 of which have been on a waiting list for at least 18 months.
Teachta Doherty said the latest figures from the NTPF reveal that a further 749 patients have been added to outpatient waiting lists at LUH since the start of the year, meaning that there are now 15,474 patients waiting to be seen by a Consultant at the hospital.
He fumed “Even more worrying, is the fact that when we examine these numbers more closely we can see that within the time bracket consisting of those who’ve been waiting the longest for treatment, i.e., 18 months or more, we see that there over 2,201 patients who now fall within this category.
“This means that while the overall number added to Outpatient waiting lists have risen by over five per cent this year so far, there has actually been an almost 17 per cent increase in the numbers waiting 18 months or longer for Consultant led treatment.
“These figures, while not surprising, are nothing short of disgraceful and only further serve to prove the point which we in Sinn Féin and others have been making for some time now and that is that this Government is not serious able tackling the crisis in Health.
“And almost every department and speciality across the entire hospital is now affected by this crisis, with some of the longest waiting times to be found in Gynaecology, Maxillofacial, Orthopaedics, ENT, Urology and others.”
He added that while no one is claiming that we can solve these problems overnight, there are simple small actions which Government could take to swiftly improve this situation for countless patients and staff.
“These include introducing integrated waiting lists across the entire hospital network to ensure patients requiring appointments, procedures and surgeries are able to access treatment much more quickly, something which Sinn Féin is proposing in its ‘Comhliosta’ initiative.
“Similarly, my party colleagues and I only earlier this week launched our campaign to have the 19 Bed Short Stay Ward at Letterkenny Hospital reopened because it’s obvious that these beds must be brought into use to help alleviate overcrowding at the hospital – something which has a knock on effect on every aspect of the health service, including waiting times.
“On that note, I’m happy to report that the campaign’s online petition has already garnered well in excess of 1,000 signatures and I want to thank the people of Donegal for getting behind this important initiative.”
“It’s clear that political inaction and disinterest are to blame for the crisis in our health system, but I truly believe that through coming together and demanding change then people power can and will force those overseeing decision making within our health service sit up and listen.”