Nurses on duty at Portlaoise hospital during the Covid-19 pandemic
Nearly 2,000 people are on waiting lists for treatment that can be carried out in one day at three midlands hospitals with more than 550 of these on the Portlaoise hospital list.
So says Laois Offaly Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley who insists nearly a €1 billion should be spent across the country to tackle the problem.
The hospitals in Laois and Offaly have the longest waiting lists and are part of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group.
"HSE waiting lists in Laois / Offaly show that the number of patients waiting for day procedures in Portlaoise hospital are 555, while in Tullamore Hospital the figure is 995. Mullingar Regional Hospital have 468 on their list. Patients are waiting longer than ever to receive care. Across the State the total number waiting for day procedures is at 80,283.
"National hospital waiting lists have reached a total of over 819,000 for the first time. While waiting lists were over 700,000 before Covid-19, it has contributed further to growing lists. Covid has exposed a healthcare system which does not have enough beds, consultants, nurses or other health professionals. The health service is at crisis point and it is not fit for purpose. With another winter emerging there will be further pressure on the already overstretched services. Action is needed now," he said.
The Laois Offaly poll topper says his party has a plan.
“Sinn Féin is proposing a fully costed €914 milion package, including one-off capital investment of €568m, to turn the tide in favour of patients and healthcare workers.
“This includes 600 more beds above the Government’s current plans, filling more than 600 consultant posts and hiring 4,000 additional hospital staff, and 430 critical care beds by 2025.
“This also includes €150m for theatre capacity expansion and equipment to deliver more treatment in public hospitals, and a fund of €100m for equipment upgrades and patient management and waiting list system modernisation," he said.
The Chairman of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee which monitors public sending said specific cash must be spent on Information Technology (IT).
"Everywhere we look in the health service, from waiting lists to Covid-19 to the cyber-attack, there is a fire to be put out and an emergency to be tackled. It is limping from crisis to crisis. We are also proposing a fund of €100m to upgrade the IT infrastructure for better patient and waiting list management. This would also include investment in IT equipment to deliver modern care in modern hospitals," he said.
While many plans and strategies have been launched over the years, he believes a road map is urgently needed for the health service.
“We need an urgent plan to catch up on missed care, reduce waiting lists, and deliver a top class, universal public health service. We need a fresh start with a system which is fair for health workers, equitable for patients, efficient, and modern. Above all else, we need to tackle waiting lists now,” he said.
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