The Minister for Health has promised “very significant action” to tackle rising waiting lists in the country’s hospitals.
Stephen Donnelly, who was taking questions from TDs in the Dáil on Tuesday night, admitted that waiting lists were too high.
Taking questions from Sinn Féin health spokesperson David Cullinane on waiting lists, Mr Donnelly admitted: “It is one of the biggest challenges we have in the health service.
“It is a top priority for me, it is a top priority for this Government.”
Mr Donnelly said that even before the Covid-19 pandemic, waiting lists were “far too high”.
“They are still too high,” the Health Minister said.
“Very significant action is required,” he said, promising a fresh plan soon.
However, he said that last year had seen a 6% reduction in waiting list figures in Ireland.
Amid the pandemic-related pressures on the health system, he said that such news was “welcome”.
“Obviously we have to go much, much further,” he said.
The Sinn Féin TD said that the numbers were going in the wrong direction.
“All sorts of promises have been made in the past to deal with waiting lists,” he said.
Mr Cullinane said that 165,000 people have been waiting longer than 18 months for treatment.
“That wasn’t just down to Covid,” Mr Cullinane said.