Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Billy Kelleher has slammed Minister for Health, Simon Harris for his abysmal failure to deal with the hospital trolley crisis over his first 12 months in office as Minister.

Deputy Kelleher was commenting after figures revealed that there has been a year on year increase of 23.1%, or 1527, of people lying on hospital trolleys waiting to be admitted to a ward.

In May 2016, 6627 people were lying on trolleys in our hospital, compared to 8154 in May 2017.

“This all comes in spite of Minister Harris’ much vaunted Winter Initiative last year which has had no real discernible impact on overall trolley figures.

“In recent weeks and months, despite it being well into spring and summer, the daily trolley figures have all been over 300.

“Since when did it become acceptable to have so many sick people lying on trolleys outside of the traditional winter period?

“Is the figure of 300 people on trolleys the level that the HSE believes is justifiable? There is a lack of ambition in the HSE, and it stems from the Minister’s apparent acceptance that people lying in trolleys is part and parcel of Ireland’s health system in 2017.

“The only way to fix the trolley crisis is by increasing capacity in the hospital system; both in terms of bed capacity and the number of doctors and nurses working in the system.

“Added to this, we need to find alternative ways of caring for non-acute patients outside of the acute hospital network.

“There are amazing step down facilities in Community Hospitals right across the country. These need to be used more to reduce the pressures on our acute hospitals.

“This will ensure that there is the much needed capacity in our hospitals to allow sick patients, presenting to Emergency Departments, be seen and admitted where necessary.

“Minister Harris has less than three months until the numbers start to rise again. Has he the resources needed and has he the plan required to ensure that no one is left lying on trolleys. To date, and based on this year on year increase, I don’t believe that either is the case,” concluded Kelleher.