Waiting lists in Galway for out-patients and in-patients, including those waiting for MRI scans remain scandalously high, according to a Galway City councillor.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) West has confirmed there are 30,322 patients on the out-patient waiting lists and 10,747 on the in-patient waiting list in Galway alone.
It was also confirmed to Cllr Catherine Connolly at a recent HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting that there are three different lists for patients waiting for an MRI.
On the priority number one list there are 90 patients waiting up to three months while on the priority two list there are 2,204 patients waiting up to two years and more. Meanwhile, on the priority three list there are 634 waiting for an even longer period of time.
The priority two list includes patients waiting for serious spinal surgery who can only function with the use of crutches and pain relief.
Cllr Connolly said the figures on waiting lists show current Government health policy is failing patients.
“Despite the introduction of the National Treatment Purchase Fund in 2002 which was set up specifically to deal with waiting lists and which was followed by the Special Delivery Unit in 2011, waiting lists remain scandalously high,” she said.
“Both initiatives have spectacularly failed and only succeeded in channeling money into the private hospital system in Galway and around the country, including Sligo, Limerick, Dublin and also private facilities outside of the country.
“The two public hospitals, UHG and Merlin Park, remain chronically underfunded and attempting to function with only one MRI scan because the HSE West say they have no money to buy another one.”
Cllr Connolly said the threat by Health Minister Leo Varadkar to impose fines on Galway hospitals for failure to deliver on targets is shocking.
“Under the European Cross Border Health Directive, the HSE is obliged to pay for any care or treatment received in another country in the EU by an Irish patient if she or he has been on a waiting list in Ireland and have failed to get the necessary treatment.
“So, one way or another, it is costing, and will cost, the Government money either by having to pay private hospitals in Ireland or hospitals in Europe. Rather than talking about imposing fines on a public health system that is creaking for want of funding, the Minister and the Government should commit to the provision of the necessary employment of skilled staff to provide a first class public health system in our own city and country,” added Cllr Connolly.