Deputy Jackie Cahill
Fianna Fáil TD, Jackie Cahill has claimed that until Fine Gael and the Government finally accept that there is a crisis in the health service, meaningful improvements in waiting lists will not materialise.
Deputy Cahill was commenting during a special Dáil debate on the issue of unacceptable and dangerous waiting lists.
“The local hospitals serving the people of Tipperary have all seen massive rises in the longer than 12 month outpatients waiting times. University Hospital Waterford is up 158 per cent since May 2016; University Hospital Limerick is up by 146 per cent and South Tipperary General Hospital is up by 138 per cent,” he said.
Deputy Cahill said that there was now a total of 24,240 people waiting longer than 12 months for an outpatient appointment at a hospital serving the people of the county.
“Fine Gael may attempt on a daily basis to hide from the reality of the situation, but the facts are clear. In July 2014 there were 360,753 on the national outpatient waiting list. By May of this year, that had risen to 511,904, a full 42 per cent rise in just four years,” said the Tipperary TD.
He said that the targets set by the Taoiseach while serving as Health Minister in 2014 had not been met and were as far away as ever from being met.
“People know this and they are getting fed up,” he said.
What hadn’t been noted yet was that these targets, even if met, would have left Ireland with still the worst health care system in the European Union.
“The sum total of Fine Gael’s ambition for our health service is to be bottom of the class. If this is what is on offer, I worry for our hospitals, our primary care centres, our GP services and most of all for our citizens,” said Deputy Cahill.
He said that families with children waiting for much needed care were their wits end with worry, while older people were having their quality of life badly affected as they waited for years for simple procedures.
“This is where political accountability comes in. The Taoiseach seems to believe that he can float through these scandals offering soft intellectual observations without taking any real responsibility.
“That’s not his job. His job is to get down and dirty if necessary and to improve services for all Irish citizens. Being Taoiseach is not some sort of reality TV show where he is the hero character,” he said.
Deputy Cahill said that it was time for the Taoiseach to admit there was a crisis in the health service, and started working to address it.
“Hoping it will go away isn’t a viable strategy,” he said.