"One Million People On Hospital Waiting List is a Public Health Emergency" - Tóibín
Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has called on the government to consider entering talks with private hospitals and clinics in a bid to tackle the spiraling numbers on waiting lists for hospital appointments.
Deputy Tóibín said: "Last year the government entered a contract with private hospitals as we braced for a spike in Covid cases. As it transpired we never used these hospitals because we didn't experience the Covid spike that the government had predicted. I and other opposition deputies were critical of the waste of public funds associated with those contracts. Now, the situation is different, we have nearly one million people nationally on waiting lists for appointments. We are experiencing what Aontú has been warning about throughout the pandemic - a major spike in presentations for non-Covid related conditions. It is my belief that our health service, diagnostics and treatments should never have been paused or closed to the extent they were during the pandemic. I was diagnosed with cancer myself during the pandemic so I am acutely aware of the importance of timely diagnosis and treatment for the condition. I was one of the lucky ones, many more will not be so lucky".
Deputy Tóibín continued: "This wave of non-covid ailments heading our direction merits an emergency response. We should be taking drastic steps to save lives. It is now time, I believe, for the government to enter talks with private hospitals to explore our options in reducing these waiting lists. The EU directive which allows patients to travel to the north for private treatments and seek reimbursement from the HSE must be utilized fully before it expires at the end of the year".
"Many hospitals around the country, particularly in the west of the country are at breaking point. There is not one free bed in Mayo University Hospital today, with patients queuing in a tent outside the facility. I've been taking calls in recent days from families of patients in University College Hospital Galway (where strict visitor restrictions have been reintroduced due to an outbreak of Covid-19) seeking updates on their loved ones' conditions. When a person has to phone a TD because they cannot get through to the hospital or ward in which their mother or father is dying then the situation must be considered a national emergency and must merit an emergency response. Our hospitals are on their knees, something has to be done", concluded Tóibín.