The health system is in a terrible crisis right now. It is a human resource crisis, with nurses leaving the system on a consistent basis and up to 75% of graduates leaving the country. Accident and emergency departments are in continual crisis. There is a general human resource shortage across the board in respect of doctors, psychiatrists, therapists and many more.
The latest waiting list figures reveal a dramatically worsening situation in all the categories and in all the hospitals. There are now approximately 666,000 patients on a waiting list - a national record, and dare I say, a national scandal. The number of outpatients waiting for 12 months or longer is more than 109,000. The total outpatient waiting list has 473,000 people. The total number of inpatient and day cases is 85,000 plus. Then there is the pre-admit list of 26,000, plus the 61,000 on the planned procedures list, which do not get into the official lists. We have shocking waiting lists for diagnostics, for endoscopies, CT scans etc. and most shocking of all, there are 10,000 children who have been waiting for more than 12 months for an appointment in the Dublin hospitals.
If one goes through the categories by hospital, Waterford, for example, needs serious attention. The outpatient list in Waterford of those waiting over 12 months is up 443% since 2014. I do not know what is going on there but it is incredible. Its inpatient waiting list is up 159%.
Since the change and the downgrading and undermining of Waterford hospital, the waiting lists have soared in that hospital. For outpatient waiting lists, the Mater hospital is up 55%, St. Vincent's hospital is up 56%, Louth is up 96% and Limerick is up 108%.
A commitment was given that the National Treatment Purchase Fund, NTPF, would be given back responsibility for waiting lists. That has not happened yet. The NTPF has not started its work yet and I want to know why. In the last year when the NTPF was operating, it provided operations for approximately 33,000 patients. It facilitated approximately 200,000 patients in all up to 2010 and the median waiting time was down to 2.4 months. There seems to be an incredible inertia and lack of urgency attached to the crisis in waiting lists and the situation is getting worse. When will the Government show some urgency in tackling what is clearly an unacceptable crisis in terms of people waiting for urgent appointments and surgery?