Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has described the hospital waiting lists as “scandalous” and accused three successive Fine Gael Health Ministers of failing patients and staff and of failing to end the crisis in Health.
The Louth TD was speaking in the Dáil during a Sinn Féin PMB on hospital waiting lists in the health service. Teachta Adams identified the waiting lists in Louth County Hospital and Our lady of Lourdes Drogheda as deeply worrying.
Gerry Adams said:
“Since 2011 Fine Gael has had three Ministers for Health. All have promised an end to the crisis in the health service. They have all failed. This is evident in the cervical screening scandal. It is evident in the ongoing crisis in our Emergency Departments.
The crisis in health is also evident in the failure to retain staff. It is evident in our grossly underfunded, under resourced mental health services. The failure to provide children in north Louth with access to Child Adolescent Mental Health Services; and the absence of a minor injuries unit in Louth County Hospital, are examples of this crisis.
In May over seven hundred thousand people were on hospital waiting lists. Over half a million are on outpatient waiting lists; and almost eighty thousand are on inpatient lists.
The two Louth hospitals – Louth County Hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes Drogheda – have almost fifteen thousand people on their outpatient waiting list. The same two hospitals have 1,330 patients on their inpatient list.
Behind these statistics are stories of real stress and hurt in people’s lives. This is nothing short of a scandal. It is a scandal compounded by the lack of accountability in government. It is a scandal made worse by Fianna Fáil’s propping up of this government and its health policies.
The health service needs practical alternatives to the current mess. Sinn Féin has these alternatives. We have consistently called for an integrated hospital waiting list management system; based on a Portuguese model; which the Minister agreed to pilot.
The government should introduce a SINGLE, Integrated Hospital Waiting List System as a matter of urgency. Sláintecare has to be implemented in full and urgently. And we need to be working toward the early creation of an all-island public health service.
Failure to adopt these proposals will sustain the perpetual health crisis for which this government is responsible.”
Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has criticised the Government’s failure to provide timely assessment and intervention for children who require occupational therapy (OT).
Teachta Adams made the following remarks on receipt of response to a parliamentary question (PQs 11387/17 – 11390/17) on OT assessment which confirms 4,186 children on the waiting list across the State and 711 on the Louth waiting list.
“These are disgusting figures in a State with ample resources to address this problem.
“Early diagnosis and intervention is essential to enable these children to get the supports they need to achieve to the best of their ability both at school and in their general lives.
“The Government is presiding over a system in which children with queried disabilities are waiting two years for initial assessment and a further two years for therapy.
“The truth is that many children caught up in this rotten system will be left school before any support is forthcoming. What are their life chances following years of denied assistance?
“I have spoken to numerous parents of children who are on the waiting list for OT assessment.
“These children have largely been referred for assessment by their schools, so an obvious need has been identified by teachers.
“It is an absolute shame on this government, and all government TDs, that there are 179 children under five years old and 532 between the ages of five and 18 in County Louth who have not even been assessed, much less received any necessary therapy.
“I have spoken to parents who have gone without meals themselves in order to procure private OT assessments for their kids, when faced with a 2 year waiting list.
“These private assessments can cost in the region of €500, which is simply beyond the reach of many parents.
“Yet, as this PQ reply states, even with a diagnosis of dyspraxia or dyslexia or autism or one of any number of disabilities, the HSE requires all children to be assessed within the public system in order to obtain follow up therapy.
“I support the fair allocation of State resources but I contend that this Government, not content with forcing parents to seek private OT assessments, is in actual fact forcing parents to also pay for private therapy on receipt of a diagnosis.
“What parent, with any means available, who’s child has been privately assessed and needs therapy, will not go without themselves to purchase the therapy also, rather than watch their child struggle for two years or more?
“Is life not challenging enough for these children and their families without a 4 year wait for State support?
“The Government and the Minister for Health must urgently direct resources to address these waiting lists. It is time to sort out the recruitment issues which mean that these children go without.
Sinn Fein TD for Louth Gerry Adams has criticised the lengthy therapy waits experienced by adult survivors of childhood abuse.
The TD made the following remarks on receipt of a response to a parliamentary question on the issue which indicated a waiting time in Louth of 6 weeks for initial assessment and 13 months for counselling.
Gerry Adams said;
“The HSE’s National Counselling Service was established in September 2000 and it primarily caters for adults who experienced abuse as children while in the care of the State.
“The response which I have received from the HSE indicates a wholly inadequate service to vulnerable people who have already been failed by the State.
“Across the State the waiting times for initial assessment vary between 4 weeks and 9 months while the waiting time for counselling varies between 6 and 16 months. It seems that in recovery Ireland access to necessary services for those abused as children is determined by location rather than need.”
“This PQ response further indicates that there is an issue in certain areas regarding staff vacancies with counsellors being redeployed to other areas as needed, thereby reducing overall provision.
“This is simply unacceptable and I have written to the Health Minister on foot of this response to find out what staff vacancies exists across this service, where vacancies are located and the reasons for the failure to recruit adequate staff numbers to perform this vital service.
“Adults who experienced abuse as children while under the protection of the State are a highly vulnerable cohort of citizens. They must not be further victimised through delays or denials of essential services.
“The HSE’s Mental Health Division has informed me that priority long waiters will be addressed through Programme for Government funding in 2016 and I have asked the Minister for further details on how this will impact on the Louth waiting times.”
Commenting on the latest hospital outpatient and inpatient waiting list figures for November 2015, Drogheda based Sinn Féin Councillor and General Election Candidate Imelda Munster has slammed the Government’s failure to tackle the waiting lists.
According to Cllr Munster, “the people have had enough of the Government’s incompetence and its mismanagement of our public health service”.
Cllr Munster said: “This month we have seen a paltry 2% decrease in the outpatient waiting list at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, which currently stands at just under 11,000 people. Despite all the bluster from our Minister for Health, he has failed to deliver on the promise he made that no patient would be waiting more than 15 months for treatment by the end of the year.
“In our Lady of Lourdes Hospital alone, there are almost 1,200 people waiting over one year with over 350 waiting for over 15 months on the outpatient and inpatient lists. It is clear that this Government is out of its depth and incapable of effectively tackling this crisis.
“Instead of investing in our health service, Fine Gael and Labour have compounded the years of underinvestment and mismanagement of the health service under Fianna Fáil Governments. This Government’s health policy is in shambles – our nurses are ready to go on strike, Universal Health Insurance has gone out the window and instead of providing the necessary investment to our chronically under resourced hospitals, this Government has fined them to the tune of €5.8 million in a desperate attempt to make this issue disappear in the run up to an election!
“This would be laughable if it was not so serious. In November of this year 578 admitted patients were cared for on trolleys in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda – a complete scandal.
“The people of Louth and frontline health workers can no longer afford to wait for this Government to get its act together – it is time to call an election and let the people have their say.”
Sinn Féin President and TD for Louth/East Meath Gerry Adams said in the Dáil this week that the Government is responsible for a health service in complete chaos and that patients are being treated like ‘second-class’ citizens.
Raising the case of Louth woman Denise Tuohy, Deputy Adams said:
“I spoke with Denise Tuohy this week, who spent four days on a trolley in A&E in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda for which she has been charged €75 a day. To make matters worse, Denise’s son Jake has a rare genetic condition, but he doesn’t have a medical card.
“I also spoke this week with Daniel Long, the father of Orlaith – a six-week old baby girl who was forced to wait 11 hours in A&E for a bed at Cork University Hospital.
“Their cases are just two examples of how this Government, led by Fine Gael, has failed to adequately resource our hospitals because it doesn’t believe in universal public healthcare.
“Denise said the nurses are fabulous, but the system is letting patients down. She’s right.
“The unfairness with which citizens like Denise and Orlaith have been treated is no longer unusual. It’s the norm. This Government is presiding over a health service in complete chaos.
“The A&E overcrowding problem is getting worse and patients, including Denise, her son Jake and a little baby like Orlaith are being treated like second class citizens in this Government’s two tier health system”.