Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Stephen Donnelly, has said the ripple effect caused by overcrowding in Emergency Departments (EDs) across the country is leaving sick and vulnerable children without treatment.

Deputy Donnelly said it is only a matter of time before the widespread cancellation of procedures and treatment results in a direct loss of life.

He said, “We know that where there are long waits in EDs, the mortality rates are higher. The Master of the Rotunda has also said it is only a matter of time before a young baby’s life is taken as a result of the crisis in our health service.

“Nowhere else in the western world is this acceptable. Nowhere else in the western world are children who have already been waiting for two plus years for treatment told ‘sorry the treatment you were finally scheduled to get has been cancelled because our ED is bursting at the seams.’

“These conditions are unsafe for patients and unsafe for staff. The staff are nothing short of heroes. They get up each day, go to work in the worst conditions, under pressure which would cause most to buckle, and they show care and compassion to their patients. They shouldn’t have to put up with these conditions.

“Cancelling elective procedures is only making a bad situation worse. We have the longest waiting lists in Europe for elective procedures and cancelling them to free up space is only going to exacerbate the problem.

“The solutions are clear to everyone but the Minister apparently. He recently announced a Winter Plan which does not provide one extra bed or one extra Nurse or Doctor.

“We need to keep people out of EDs, we do that by targeting funding towards Primary Care. We need to give EDs the very specific resources they need which would clear the bottleneck of patients and we need to free up bed space in the EDs by providing the necessary home care support so that people can go back to their community and be cared for there.

“We can’t become complacent to this inhumanity. This is not the same old story. It has never been this bad before. We are at a catastrophic crossroads and we need a colossal response,” he concluded.