McConalogue: Hospital patients can expect longer waits

Patients will be forced to wait longer for operations and treatment under Health Minister James Reilly’s plan, Charlie McConalogue, Fianna Fáil TD, told the Dáil on Tuesday night.

Patients will be forced to wait longer for operations and treatment under Health Minister James Reilly’s plan, Charlie McConalogue, Fianna Fáil TD, told the Dáil on Tuesday night.

The Donegal North East deputy said the minister’s policy of forcing Letterkenny General Hospital to operate within a significantly reduced budget this year will result in longer waiting times for patients, inevitably leaving many in prolonged pain.

“Letterkenny General Hospital is this year being forced to operate from a budget of €95 million - a drop of €8 million from €103 million last year,” Deputy McConalogue said. “This, combined with the fact that the hospital budget overran by a figure of €4.5 million last year, shows just what an impossible task is being asked of the hospital if Minister Reilly refuses to sanction any overrun on the allocated budget in 2011.”

The Inishowen-based deputy was speaking on a Dáil motion opposing the government’s health cuts. Noting that the hospital faced a budget overrun of more than €6 million this year if it continues on its current path, he said there would be a severe impact on services during the second half of the year, he said.

“I believe the first priority we must have is ensuring that people’s health is put first,” Deputy McConalogue said, calling on the minister to meet with hospital managers and staff to assess the impact of the spending cuts.

“Patients must be the first priority when budgets allocations are made,” he said.