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Hospital Waiting Lists Increase A Scandal

The news that the numbers of people waiting for hospital appointments and procedures has increased again is further evidence of a deepening crisis and it is a problem that has to be tackled in a meaningful way once and for all by the new Government.
It is a scandal that almost 490,000 people are on waiting lists at the moment and we have got to address this problem seriously. There is no quick fix but there are a number of things that can be done. Here in Ireland we spend 2.8% of our health budget on primary care while the norm in other European countries in 10% to 14%. We can seriously reduce the pressure on our hospitals and A and E units by increasing the amount we spend on primary care. If the new Government committed to a 2% increase in spending on primary care per annum over 5 years it would make a huge difference as specialist nurses, physios and other care workers could be employed in the primary care sectors to carry out a lot of the procedures currently being done in hospitals. Many private GP’s have facilities for scans which are currently being carried out in hospitals and this must be explored as well for future treatment.
There are other options such as the revival of the National Treatment Purchase Fund that would see patients who are a long time on waiting lists treated in private hospitals. Consultations at public hospitals should be available from 8am to 8pm which would also shorten waiting lists, and if extra consultants need to be recruited then let that become a reality. We have to think outside the box and be creative in solving this scandal once and for all and it is possible to do it with some creative thinking on behalf of all the stakeholders involved. The time for talking is over on this issue. We have to act now.