Yesterday the waiting lists were published and, unfortunately, it was like Groundhog Day all over again. Ten years ago there were 21,000 people on waiting lists for surgical and medical treatments and day-case or diagnostic treatments. Yesterday the list showed that there were 684,800 patients waiting on lists of various types: outpatient, 494,530; inpatient day-case, 80,894; endoscopy - active, 19,300; inpatient day-case, 18,000; inpatient day-case planned procedures, 11,700; planned procedures for endoscopy, 51,000; and endoscopy, 8,294. The reason I reference all those lists is simply that nobody knows how many people are waiting anymore because we consistently change the goalposts. We consistently change how we assess the numbers of people on waiting lists. We now have a situation where we have so-called suspended lists. One is suspended from the list, one is in abeyance, and then one is brought back onto an active list at some stage. People suffering with juvenile arthritis, scoliosis and several other paediatric illnesses and diseases are waiting inordinate periods of time for outpatient and inpatient procedures. It is wholly unacceptable.
In the NHS in England, there are 1,511 people waiting more than a year for an inpatient appointment. In Galway hospital alone, there are 2,914 waiting more than a year for an inpatient appointment. The fact of the matter is the health services are in crisis. Yesterday, if the Tánaiste wanted to seek clarity on that, all she had to do was read the Minister's two press releases, both contradictory, one trying to correct the other in terms of targets achieved and targets missed, numbers who were seen and numbers who were not seen. There were corrections even in the context of the press releases sent out.
Finally, we have a situation where advertisements are being issued for winter readiness and proofing of the health services for winter. One senior hospital manager told me that the only programme in place was the flu vaccine and prayers. The flu vaccine and prayers were how prepared we were for the winter initiative in some of our hospitals.
I raised this a number of weeks ago. Will the Tánaiste accept that a great deal has to be done, both in the context of the waiting lists themselves, enhancing capacity and ensuring people are seen in a timely manner, but also in the short and medium term on the issue of ensuring that our hospitals can cope with what will be thrown at them this winter?