Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Billy Kelleher has said that Minister Simon Harris’ Winter Initiative has failed miserably to address the chronic overcrowding in Irish Emergency Departments.

Deputy Kelleher was commenting following the publication of the daily INMO Trolley figures which show that this morning, (13th Dec), 541 patients were lying on trolleys across the State’s public hospitals.

“We have consistent increases in the number of people lying on trolleys in our hospitals since September 2016 when the Winter Initiative was announced.”

“Minister Harris talks a good game about dealing with this crisis, but the facts don’t back up his claims. We are in as bad a situation as Winter 2015/2016 but at a much earlier stage in the season,” said Kelleher.

“In addition to the traditional blackspots of CUH in Cork and the University Hospitals in Galway and Limerick, we now see major crises in hospitals such as Letterkenny General Hospital, South Tipperary General Hospital and University Hospital Limerick.”

“Clearly, the €40 million allocated by Minister Harris earlier this year was nearly not enough to deal with the overcrowding in our Emergency Departments.”

“At the time, I called Minister Harris out on the lack of resources being put into the initiative, but was told they it would be enough.”

“Minister Harris must, as part of the HSE Service Plan for 2017 properly fund the services needed to end the shame of sick people, mainly the elderly, lying on trolleys. It’s more than quick fixes in our EDs.”

“The opening step-down facilities with the required medical and nursing support to remove non-acute patients from our hospital wards and investing in adequate home care packages and home help hours is urgently needed, and must be funded.”

“The constant refrain from Minister Harris that all is in hand, and that the Winter Initiative will work doesn’t hold true when one looks at the rocketing figures.”

“This is Minister Harris’ Winter Initiative, and the 541 people on trolleys this morning and their families, should be proof enough of its failure,” concluded Kelleher.