Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has described the Government’s failure to tackle waiting lists for patients waiting for cataract operations as awful
and unacceptable. The Sinn Féin TD said that the huge waiting list for this important operation, for people at risk of losing their sight, must be urgently tackled.

Teachta Seán Crowe said: “It is truly awful that people with cataract problems know that a simple operation can transform their lives, but because of the Government and HSE’s mishandling of waiting lists, the long delays in getting this operation mean they face the prospect of slowly going blind.

“The procedure usually takes around 10 minutes to perform, yet there are currently 7,541 patients waiting on an operation across the State. “These patients may have seriously impaired vision because of the cataract on their eye and the longer they have to wait for an operation the increased likelihood is that their limited vision may be impaired permanently.

“The scale of the situation affects all areas of the State. Dublin’s Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital has 1,609 patients waiting in the hope of an appointment, while University Hospital Waterford has a total of 1,583 patients waiting on their list.

“Many cataract patients are travelling to the North or to other destinations to try and get their life changing surgery. Behind every waiting list number is a person and many of them are senior citizens.

“According to a recent parliamentary question there are currently 315 cataracts patients who have been waiting over 18 months for their operation. That is truly scandalous.

“We clearly need to look at how cataract surgery is carried out in Ireland. The HSE’s ‘Primary Care Eye Services Review Group Report’ highlights the limitations of the current model of delivery and has sought to set out the way forward for a significant amount of eye services to be delivered in a Primary Care setting. This will create movement and is to be welcomed.

“The Government’s failure to address waiting lists for cataract operations for patients who risk losing their sight is a truly awful and it needs to be urgently addressed. The HSE’s Primary Care Eye Services report needs to be implemented fully and a plan drawn up that will seriously reduce  the waiting lists for the 7,541 patients currently waiting for positive news.”