Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher says patients in Emergency Departments are being put at risk and are facing intolerable delays because of the Government’s failure to act and tackle the problem. The party has put down a motion calling on the Government to put a plan in place to deal with the crisis and ensure that patient safety is no longer compromised.
Speaking ahead of the Dáil debate Deputy Kelleher commented, “Minister Leo Varadkar knew about the impending A&E crisis months before it hit but failed to put any concrete measures in place to counteract the problems that were forecast. The Emergency Department Taskforce may have been set up but its members have only held one meeting, despite the number of people on trolleys in hospital A&Es hitting record levels.
“Hundreds of patients across the country are still facing long waits on trolleys, stripped of privacy and dignity as the Minister continues to give a running commentary on the crisis rather than taking the decisions which could see it easing. It is no longer acceptable for Minister Varadkar to shirk responsibility, he has a duty to the public to take hold of the situation and sort it out.
“Fianna Fáil warned as far back as October that the extensive delays in the Fair Deal scheme would lead to knock on problems in the country’s hospitals. At that stage there were more than 2,000 people waiting for a bed in a nursing home. Despite calling for extra resources for the programme in the Budget, the Minister was unable to deliver and as a result there are now 400 fewer places on the scheme, compared to 2013 figures.
“The severity of the situation has forced nurses across the country into taking industrial action in an attempt to compel the Government to take action to address the escalating crisis. The simple fact of the matter is there are not enough step-down beds, hospital beds and frontline medical staff to treat the increased number of patients creating an intolerable risk to patient safety.
“This week the Dáil will vote on a Fianna Fáil motion demanding that the government immediately provide beds and increase frontline staff so that the overcrowding can be eased. We also want the number of beds funded under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme to be restored to at least the level supported in 2013.”