Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson, Billy Kelleher has said that six years after Fine Gael entered Government the Irish Health system is, in many respects, worse than ever.

Deputy Kelleher was commenting after figures compiled by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation show that the numbers waiting on trolleys for admission to hospital are worse than ever.

“The facts and figures don’t lie. In April 2017, 7199 patients were lying on trolleys compared to 6636 in April 2011.

“While there has been some improvement in the figures in the Eastern Division, i.e. those hospitals in and around Dublin and the East Coast, we have seen a massive deterioration in the rest of the country.

“A 40% increase over six years of Fine Gael government is not good enough, especially as we have seen some increases in funding over that time.

“Three successive Fine Gael Ministers for Health have all failed to make any impact on the scourge of patients on trolleys.

“What is deeply concerning is the fact that the South and West of the country have been completely ignored by these Ministers.

“But unfortunately, it is not surprising. The emergence of a two tier Ireland has been a central failure of Fine Gael in Government, with their record in regional development as bad as their record on trolleys in the South and West.

“Fine Gael is unique in European politics in being one of a very small handful of political parties that don’t have a viable or workable health policy, and are in charge of their country’s health system.

“We need targeted investment in our health system with additional funding for step down facilities in community hospitals to get those who do not require an acute bed, who do require care, out of the system.

“Recruiting and retaining nurses and doctors is beyond doubt one of the single biggest challenges in the health system, bar funding, and unless Minister Harris gets his act together, the Irish health system will grind to a halt.

“We have already seen the closure of a ward at a community hospital in Waterford as a result of a lack of nurses. It’s time that Minister Harris addresses these challenges otherwise Winter 2017/2018 will bring even more horror and suffering to patients,” concluded Kelleher.