James Reilly accused of waiting list ‘con trick’

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin says Minister for Health is ‘massaging figures’

Micheál Martin: “The first thing the Minister did when he came into office was change the targets.” Photograph: Eric Luke

Micheál Martin: “The first thing the Minister did when he came into office was change the targets.” Photograph: Eric Luke

Thu, Apr 18, 2013, 20:40

Minister for Health James Reilly has been accused of “massaging figures” and perpetrating a “con trick” on “rocketing” hospital waiting lists.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin made the claim in the Dáil as he highlighted a daily email being sent to wards in Cork University Hospital telling them to cancel all elective surgery except paediatrics.

He said “most shockingly it includes cases for the treatment of cancers”. He added that “elective cardiac, cancer and neurosurgery is life-saving surgery”. It was “unacceptable that this should be happening”, he said, adding that a further €750 million cut was lined up this year for the health service.

Accusing the Minister of massaging the figures for waiting lists he said “the first thing the Minister did when he came into office was change the targets”.


Moving targets
He said the internationally recognised targets for waiting lists were three months and six months. Dr Reilly “unilaterally said it is 12 months. He had to massage the figures and perpetrate a con trick.”

The Fianna Fáil leader said the special delivery unit “has refined his machinations to nine months and over”, while the figures for three and six months and over “have rocketed over the past two years”.

The number of adults waiting for surgery had increased by 40 per cent, with 13,435 waiting more than six months.

But Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said that figure was incorrect and the figure he had been given was 10,002 at the end of March, an increase of 4 per cent, and not 40 per cent as claimed by Mr Martin.

He said at the end of 2012 there were more than 20,000 fewer people on trolleys than at the end of 2011, which represented an improvement of 24 per cent.

Mr Gilmore said “the health service is always under strain” and the issue was how best to manage the strains and demands.

Hitting out at Mr Martin, a former minister for health, he said that if Dr Reilly needed advice on how better to manage the HSE it would not be from Mr Martin because “you of all people were not able to manage the health service in the best of financial times”.