Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher TD is calling on the Health Minister to intervene to tackle the out of control overcrowding crisis at the country’s Emergency Departments. According to figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, 563 people are on trolleys in hospitals across the country, with 50 patients at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda waiting for admission.
Deputy Kelleher commented, “This situation has gone beyond crisis point and Minister Leo Varadkar must act to bring it under control. Overcrowding is crippling emergency departments at hospitals the length and breadth of the country and is putting patients’ safety at risk. This is a crisis which has been deteriorating steadily for the past year, but the Minister has stood back and refused to take action and now the numbers on trolleys have reached record levels.
“This is a frightening state of affairs. More than 560 people are being deprived of quality care and dignity because Minister Varadkar is refusing to take responsibility and devise a plan to tackle the crisis. Despite convening an “Emergency Department Forum”, the Minister is focusing on a long term plan without addressing the critical situation that is engulfing our EDs now. He seems content to accept the premise that things must get worse before they get better. I don’t.
“Some of the people languishing on these trolleys are suffering with serious conditions, others are elderly and all of them are being made suffer the indignity and exposure of being treated on a trolley. This is not the health service that we deserve.
“Last month we saw Beaumont Hospital in Dublin take the drastic step of asking people not to show up to its ED because of extreme overcrowding. This is a measure that looks set to be replicated at other hospitals as the crisis worsens. The winter period is traditionally a pressure point for hospitals but effective budget measures and planning could limit the fallout. Minister Varadkar has failed to put any strategy in place to ease the pressure on the system.
“These disgraceful figures are clear evidence that the Government’s health policy is not working. What we need now is a shift in policy, combined with realistic budgets which are capable of relieving the pressure on our health service. Despite promises from Minister Leo Varadkar that he would secure extra funding in the Budget, hospitals will actually have less money to spend in 2015 than they did this year. There is no doubt that this will exacerbate the situation further.
“Unless radical action is taken, this crisis will deteriorate further and patient safety will be seriously compromised”.