Fianna Fáil TD for Wexford James Browne says the record trolley figures are a damning indictment of Fine Gael’s failure to tackle the overcrowding crisis in the health service.

New figures made available by the Irish Nurses Midwives Organisation (INMO) show that there were a record 677 patients stuck on trolleys across the country this morning as the health service struggled to cope with the additional demand placed on it following an outbreak of influenza.

Deputy Browne said, “Despite assurances from Fine Gael that this year’s winter initiative would be able to deal with the expected increase in pressures on our health system, the reality is that the plan is failing miserably. This is clearly evident when you examine the figures made available by the INMO. In 2016 a total of 1,100 patients were stuck in trolleys at Wexford General Hospital. This figure increased to 1,763 in 2017, representing a dramatic increase of 60% in the space of a single year. We are now in 2018 and we are continuing to see record numbers of patients stuck on trolleys.

“The Government’s mismanagement of this issue is now being blatantly exposed. In 2011 the former Taoiseach Enda Kenny vowed to bring an end to the overcrowding crisis. However 7 years later the problem is worse than ever with record breaking numbers of patients languishing on trolleys across the entire country. This has been a persistent problem but Fine Gael has simply failed to take the necessary steps to tackle the overcrowding crisis.

“We need to urgently increase the number of beds available in our hospitals to help ease the burden. According to the most recent figures, Ireland had one of the lowest number of acute hospital beds in the OECD at 2.4% per 1,000 population compared with the OECD average of 3.6% per 1,000 in 2015. We need to see an increase in the number of beds in the health service, this is the only way the overcrowding crisis will be tackled in the long run,” concluded Deputy Browne.