Foley Calls For Action To Reduce Hospital Waiting Lists

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Deputy Norma Foley.

KERRY Fianna Fáil TD Norma Foley says patients in Kerry are being forgotten as waiting lists at University Hospital Kerry have increased significantly since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Tralee woman is calling for the cancellation of the HSE contract with private hospitals, and for the money to be used to treat patients via the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

The latest in-patient waiting list figures published by the NTPF reveals a 76.1% jump in the number of people waiting for appointments at University Hospital Kerry since the pandemic began.

In February there were 297 people on the in-patient and day case waiting lists at UHK. In April this number rose to 523 – an increase of 226 in just two months.

Deputy Foley said; “Nationally, an additional 20,000 people are on in-patient lists since the pandemic began and the total number- 86,343 – is the highest ever recorded.

“At the beginning of this pandemic our hospital network was rightly prepared for a major surge in COVID-19 cases. Procedures were cancelled, diagnostics postponed, and people urged to stay away unless absolutely necessary.

“Thankfully our hospitals were not overwhelmed and now is the time to get them operational again. Everyday healthcare needs have not gone away just because there is a pandemic. The longer a patient is left waiting for an essential procedure, the higher the possibility that their prognosis could deteriorate.  That’s before even considering that they may be in unnecessary pain or discomfort.

“If the current contract between the HSE and the private hospitals was cancelled, it would release €115m a month back into the system.  People with heart complications, possible cancer referrals and those with deteriorating eyesight don’t have time on their side.  As it currently stands, that money is paying for empty beds, shut doctors’ rooms, dark operating theatres and unused diagnostic equipment. It really is the worst of both worlds.

“We can’t allow the lists to keep rising and we need to urgently step up our response to get the lists down again,” she concluded.

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