Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson, Billy Kelleher has said that the Government’s Spin Unit is preparing the ground for a severe hospital crisis this winter yet has come up with no real solutions to the challenges facing our heath service.
Deputy Kelleher was commenting after the latest figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation shows that there were 526 people lying on trolleys in Irish Emergency Departments this morning.
“Just as these figures are announced, we hear Minister for Health, Simon Harris comment that he expects a surge in patients presenting to Emergency Departments.
“This is typical of the Government’s approach – talk about the good news stories but spin away the problems.
“I am very concerned about the ability of the public health system to deal with any further increases in demand in the run up to Christmas and New Year period.
“The Minister’s comments are simply incredulous. If the Minister believes that there will be a surge in demand, why hasn’t he done anything to prepare our hospitals?
“We are already at tipping point, and any further deterioration in the weather will surely heap even further pressure on the already stretched health system.
“What is highly worrying is that 37% of those lying on hospital trolleys were in the south of the country.
“This area has seen consistent and chronic trolley figures all year, and there doesn’t seem to be a plan to address it all.
“It cannot and should not be acceptable to Irish society, and to the Government to have so many vulnerable people, in need of care, lying on unsuitable trolleys instead of proper hospital beds.
“I am gravely concerned that with any further deterioration in the weather, or a severe outbreak of winter flu will tip the health system over the edge.
“To my mind, it’s unconscionable for our health system to be operating so close to capacity for such a long period of time.
“The Hospital Bed Review needs to be completed as quickly as possible, and the Minister must accept that using Community Hospitals to treat non-acute patients is now an absolute necessity,” concluded Kelleher.