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Nolan: Lockdown “catastrophic” for hospital waiting lists

Independent TD Carol Nolan has said that the government’s Covid lockdown was “catastrophic” for hospital waiting lists, and that it will be “years” before the extent of the damage becomes fully apparent.

The remarks were made in the Dáil last week during a debate on the state of Ireland’s healthcare system.

“The impact of Covid-19 on the delivery of health services in this State has been catastrophic,” said Nolan, “but we know there were issues with waiting lists long before the pandemic.”

The Deputy said that lists had increased significantly “across nearly all medical specialties,” adding that “it will be years before we can finally determine the sheer magnitude of the crisis that has been created in non-Covid-related areas, such as cancer, coronary and paediatric care.”

She continued: “Not only that, in my constituency of Laois-Offaly, thousands of adults and children remain on lengthy and unacceptable waiting lists for occupational therapy and speech and language therapy…we currently have at least 1,118 children waiting for speech therapy, and 159 children waiting in excess of 12 months for occupational therapy.

“That is to say nothing of the waiting lists for dental treatment. The current orthodontic waiting list in Laois-Offaly is unacceptable. I am aware of too many children and teenagers who are waiting on a list for at least six or seven years. It is unacceptable. The waiting lists must be tackled, once and for all,” she said.

According to Sinn Féin Health spokesman and TD David Cullinane, healthcare waiting lists in Ireland rose dramatically from almost 462,000 in 2014, to nearly 741,000 in January of 2020 – an increase of around 279,000 in just 6 years.

They spiralled even further during the government-imposed lockdown, surging to over 907,000 by August of 2021 if you include planned procedures.

98,000 of those waiting are children, and over 31,000 of these have been waiting more than 18 months.

Reportedly, 210,740 people in Ireland are waiting over 18 months on inpatient and outpatient waiting lists.


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