The Taoiseach has told the Dáil that waiting times for health services are unacceptable.

He was responding to the Sinn Féin leader who said thousands of children are on lengthy waiting lists with one child with neurological symptoms offered an appointment in 14 years' time.

Mary Lou McDonald said decades of bad Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael policies had resulted in children now suffering and even being unable to attend school in some cases.

She asked the Taoiseach to commit to filling 720 vacant consultant posts and to focus those roles on services for children.

The Taoiseach said change is happening in the heath service and spending has increased dramatically over the last 12 months.

He said that bed and ICU capacity has been increased but the pandemic has frustrated efforts to reduce waiting lists.

Micheál Martin said the Government wants to cut waiting times for children and resources would be allocated to do that.

He added that the vacant consultant posts were not "unrelated" to the current talks about a new public-only consultant contract.

This contract would be fully aligned to the Sláintecare principles, he said.