With the revelation that there are now 21,000 on hospital waiting lists for surgery or medical treatment, Waterford City Council member Seamus Ryan (Lab) has been left wondering how it can be claimed that progress has been made in the so-called reform of the health service.

“Behind those figures are individuals who are sick, some seriously so, who cannot get the treatment they need”, said the former Mayor. “It is outrageous that the health service they have paid for is struggling to keep up with the demands placed on them. We were told in the 2001 Health Strategy that by 2004 no more public patients would have to wait longer than three months for treatment.

“Then in 2002 we were told by the then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the then Minister for Health Micheal Martin that waiting lists would be cleared within two years. Both of these targets have been spectacularly missed.

“As patients wait for treatment the push for a two-tier health system continues and we are in danger of moving to the situation where only those who can afford to pay get the best attention and those who cannot end up on waiting lists”.

According to Cllr. Ryan, who is a member of the Regional Health Forum, the Labour Party believes in a patient-centred healthcare system that caters to the needs of the individual regardless of ability to pay.