Saturday 29 April 2017

Taoiseach claims 'no cover up' of waiting list figures

Enda Kenny. Photo: Collins
Enda Kenny. Photo: Collins
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has claimed there was no “cover up” of hospital waiting list figures despite revelations that more 49,000 public patients waiting for operations are not accounted for in official data.

It emerged yesterday that the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), which compiles waiting list information, does not publish figures for patients who have been given an appointment date but are still waiting to be seen.

Patients who are waiting for follow-up procedures after their first appointment are also not listed. The NTPF pays for surgeries in private clinics for patients on public waiting lists.

Details of the hidden figures were revealed last night in RTE Investigates ‘Waiting on the List’ documentary. The programme also detailed the plight of patients, including severely sick children, waiting for treatment in the public health system.

The Taoiseach said he found the programme “difficult” to watch and insisted “no one wants to see a situation like this”.

However, he claimed there was no massaging of figures by health officials.

“The perception that there was an attempt to cover up figures is not true,” he said. Mr Kenny said the figures revealed by RTE were never published.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said the NTPF was “mothballed” by former Health Minister James Reilly in 2012 and this led to a “rapid” increase in waiting list times.

Mr Martin said senior Fine Gael figures resisted attempts to have the NTPF reinstated during the confidence and supply negotiations.

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