Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly says he can't blame people for being frustrated with the healthcare system after years without improvement.
The Minister was speaking to The Anton Savage Show in response to his party's slipping in the polls.
This week, a poll by the Irish Times showed that support for Fianna Fáil has decreased since Michéal Martin left the Taoiseach’s office in December.
The party has dropped three points and now sits at 18%, while Fine Gael and the Green Party sit at 22% and 4% respectively.
Sinn Féin firmly remains the most popular party, with 35% of voters polled saying they would vote for that party in a general election.
Minister Donnelly hopes he will not run out of 'political road' before he can achieve what his department has set out to.
"Every politician will say this. The only poll that matters is the poll on the day and a lot of the polls we see are online polls", he said.
"What's a better hint is the face-to-face polls and what you consistently see is Fianna Fáil doing an awful lot better.
"We can't think like that. This government has an important job to do in health and housing and education and the economy and other areas."
He says, "to an extent", he wouldn't blame people for losing faith in the government's ability to improve the healthcare system.
"We saw year after year after year waiting lists continue to rise", he said.
Last year was the first year in many that saw waiting lists shorten, and Minister Donnelly promises that the trend will continue.
"We heard for year after year after year we need more hospital beds, we need more ICU beds", he said.
"This government has added a thousand hospital beds, hundreds of community beds and about 25% more ICU beds.
"People have quite rightly said we need more access to care in the community, an expansion of general practice, primary care teams, specialist teams for chronic disease management - all of those things are being put in place.
"Let's take community care. I sanctioned a workforce of over 3,500 people to work across the community. That's 96 primary care teams and 60 specialist teams."
Roughly 2,500 of those roles are filled and Minister Donnelly promises that there will be "a lot more" filled this year.
"Those teams are just beginning to bed in and they're bedding in, in a lot of the cases, in new state of the art primary care centres", he said.
According to the Minister, the pandemic meant that many of the healthcare system's issues were difficult to tackle.
"I wouldn't blame anybody for saying 'we have been waiting for our healthcare system to get better for too long", he said.
"One of the challenges I have and this government has in healthcare is, for the first two years, COVID consumed an awful lot of resource, an awful lot of attention, and we've really only had clear space from that probably from the second half of last year to now."
"In that time, what's happened? Beds have been added. Doctors, nurses, health and social care professionals have been added and, critically, the waiting lists are now falling."
Listen back to the full conversation here.
Main image shows Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly. Photograph: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie