Labour Senator Marie Sherlock has described as ‘unacceptable’ the revelation that the numbers of people who have spent more than 12 months on waiting lists for cardiology appointments at the Mater Hospital has increased almost seven-fold since the onset of the Covid pandemic.
According to figures released by the National Treatment Purchase Fund, the numbers spending more than a year on waiting lists for outpatient appointments across a variety of medical specialisms has rocketed since March 2020.
That month, on the eve of the first lockdown, just 98 people had been waiting more than a year for cardiology appointments in the Mater hospital. As of May 2021, that figure was 668.
Similar drastic rises have been observed across the hospital, in a story that is replicated all over the country.
Senator Sherlock said: “Labour has been warning for months now of a potential ‘tsunami’ affecting our health service due to the non-Covid procedures and appointments that have been delayed due to our pandemic response, and the latest waiting list figures are just one more confirmation of that threat.
“While nobody disputes the necessity of the interventions made to orient our health service to fighting the pandemic, the sad reality is that doing so has allowed the Government’s long-standing mishandling of the hospital waiting list scandal to be exacerbated.
“I’m incredibly worried to see 12-month-plus outpatient waiting lists for orthopaedics has almost doubled for Mater patients, while the equivalent figure for urology appointments increased by 53% since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Dublin Central may find itself facing an increased burden of illness and injury in the months and years ahead unless there is a plan to aggressively drive down these longer waiting times.
“We know from the last census that Dublin Central has a higher proportion of residents with poor health than the national average, and it is a distinct possibility this trend will continue unless action is taken today”.