OPPOSITION TDs HAVE warned that retirements in the health service this month could lead to a sharp increase in waiting times for elective surgery procedures.
Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin accused health minister James Reilly of lacking contingency plans and said operations would be cancelled or put back in hospitals nationwide.
“The loss of staff at the end of the month, combined with the ongoing recruitment embargo and the closure of hospital beds, mean that elective surgeries will be postponed in hospitals across this State,” Sinn Féin health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said.
He called on the Government to lift the HSE recruitment freeze and begin reopening closed hospital beds.
Fianna Fáil spokesperson Billy Kelleher said cancelling surgical procedures was just “pushing the problem further down the road”, and that waiting times would increase.
“Despite the assurances of Ministers that they have it under control, it will be those waiting for hospital procedures who pay the price for this latest lack of planning,” he said.
Kelleher claimed there was a “woeful lack of planning” for the retirements. This month marks the deadline by which public sector workers can retire and still claim a pension based on their salary before pay cuts.
Earlier today, Minister Reilly acknowledged that operations would have to be postponed as the health service copes with the change. According to the Examiner, he said: “One of the things we have to do is slow down on elective in-patient procedures for a short period of time.”