07 February 2017

Labour spokesperson on Health Alan Kelly TD has called for an independent probe into the compilation and publication of waiting lists by the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

It follows last night’s RTÉ Investigates programme, which claimed thousands of extra patients are waiting on unpublished lists.

Deputy Kelly commented:

“I am concerned that the public has been misled about the true extent of those waiting for procedures in hospitals across the country. What we need now is an independent probe to determine whether any waiting list fraud has taken place here, or if there has been a deliberate attempt to mislead people on the official figures.

“Everyone would agree that the ‘Living on the List’ programme last night was traumatic and hugely upsetting. No one should have to live with the uncertainty of when they will be treated in a country as well off as ours, and every single thing should be done to address the distress being caused to families across Ireland.

“Continually outsourcing problems to the private health service through the National Treatment Purchase Fund should not be used to let the HSE off the hook.

“Increased funding for the NTPF alone may provide some short term reduction in waiting lists, but it won’t address the capacity problems in our hospitals and it will not improve the processes.

“This isn’t about political point scoring. Minister Harris has repeatedly said that the money is there.

“If we could just do one thing today, we should set a six month deadline and fast track treatment for the 200 and more children on the scoliosis waiting list. If we could do that ift would at least give the public some confidence that we can solve these problems.

“The revelation of secret pre-admit and pre-planned waiting lists have added further to the uncertainty as to what is actually happening in our hospitals and how many people are waiting to be treated.

This adds further to the mounting financial crisis that is emerging in our health service.

“While many of the problems highlighted last night can be solved, I am very worried that the costs coming down the line will distract from helping sick people. Resources must be better targeted.

“The contract for the Children’s Hospital has been awarded at a cost of over 50% of the expected bill, before an extra €200 million to kit it out.

“It was reported yesterday that the €750 million of expected savings over the next few years from generic biologic drugs is not materialising as brand name drugs continue to be prescribed.

“The HSE has a bill of over €350 million hanging over it’s head from the consultants contract. On Sunday, it was revealed that transport could not be guaranteed for children waiting for liver and heart transplants.

“Pay talks are set to get underway soon for nurses, GPs and consultants.

“Adding up all these figures shows that there are serious financial storms ahead for our health service that the Minister must address.”

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