Health service crisis worsens as rheumatology appointments cancelled

 850 people forced to wait up to 6 months to be seen –
Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Dara Calleary has slammed the Health Minister for allowing the health crisis in the West to spiral out of all control.  Around 850 people have had their rheumatology appointments cancelled at Merlin Park because of staff shortages.

Deputy Calleary commented, “This is a ridiculous and unfair situation that should never have been allowed to happen.  Hundreds of people with chronic arthritis are now having to wait months for treatment.  These are people in acute pain and extreme discomfort and the Government and Saolta group is expecting them to suffer through the summer months because they have been unable to manage staffing issues.

“The cancellation of these clinics comes in the midst of major backlogs in the system.  There are currently 2,500 waiting for an outpatient appointment between the two clinics at Merlin Park and Manorhamilton; almost 900 of those have been waiting more than a year.  The fact that clinics are being cancelled when so many people are on waiting lists is completely unacceptable.  This is a simple HR issue.  These clinics are being cancelled at the height of the summer, with the HSE blaming staffing issues for the move.  Are the Minister and the Saolta Hospital Group incapable of organising holiday and maternity leave?

“Patients in Mayo have been left high and dry to suffer intolerable pain throughout the summer months because the HSE has failed to organise adequate staffing cover.  The backlogs will be further compounded because of existing problems within the rheumatology service in the West and North West.  The Minister’s hands-off approach to this crisis has been appalling and further serves to highlight the Government’s disinterest in issues outside the capital.

“Minister Varadkar must take charge of this situation immediately.  It is no longer acceptable for him to stand back and act as a commentator.  He is the Minister and has the ultimate power to resolve this crisis.  The people of Mayo and the wider Western area deserve better and I am calling on Minister Varadkar to stand up for them and to take action to remedy this issue”.