17 February 2018
By Bryan Smyth
Responding to reports that the new national development plan is to pledge to build three new elective only hospitals, Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher says that the new hospitals must be for public patients only.
“The Government is briefing that these new hospitals will be key to ‘slashing’ public waiting lists and these do seriously need to be tackled. Since the end of 2013, the waiting list for scheduled, or elective treatment, has gone from just under 45,000 to over 80,000 – an increase of 35,000 with 25,000Y of it occurring during Leo Varadkar’s tenure in the Department of Health.
“So if these hospitals are to dramatically reduce public waiting lists, then they must be for public patients only. The long waiting times are for public patients, and as such every ounce of additional capacity in the health service must be focused on ending their unacceptably long waits for treatment.
“That’s the only way to address the long term increases in demand that we are going to see in the next 10 to 20 years.
“Last year, the ESRI projected that the demand for inpatient bed days will increase by between 32-37% per cent by 2030 from 3.27 million in 2015, and that demand for day-patient cases will increase by between 23- 29% per cent by 2030 from 1.01 million in 2015.
“In view of the ongoing trolley and overcrowding crisis, it makes a lot of sense to treat these patients in hospitals that don’t have emergency admissions. However the Government must not use the time it will take to deliver any new hospitals as a cover for any delay in reducing waiting times. Too many are waiting too long.
“Not all the new beds need to be in new hospitals and we must provide additional capacity wherever we can within what we currently have. The average on trolleys so far in 2018 continues to top 500 on a daily basis and that is simply unacceptable and must be addressed,” concluded Kelleher.