Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher says the Minister for Health needs to do more to tackle the increasing number of patients on hospital trolleys. The latest figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation reveal an 8% increase in hospital overcrowding in July.
Deputy Kelleher commented, “Some of the figures in today’s report make for extremely worrying reading. Increases in trolley figures at Sligo Regional Hospital are up 187% on this time last year; at the Mater they’ve increased 154%, St. James’s 154%, and Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda 99%. Those are startling numbers. The summer season usually marks a reprieve for most hospitals so the increases this July are particularly concerning.
“It’s a shocking indictment of our health service that more than 5,500 patients admitted to our hospitals last month were left on trollies or packed into already crowded wards to receive treatment. The Government’s much heralded Special Delivery Unit, which was set up to reduce the number of patients on trolleys and waiting lists, seems to be floundering. Its budget has been scaled back, and today’s figures would indicate that the initiative simply isn’t working and in the case of some of the bigger hospitals, the situation is actually getting worse. The Government approved the HSE Service Plan for 2014, which provided for the number of in-patient treatments and day-case treatments to be reduced. This, combined with a further €200m in cuts in hospital budgets this year has the potential to tip the service over the edge.
“Hospital budgets continue to be a major source of the problem. The health budgets allocated over the past number of years have been completely inadequate and have led to major deficiencies within the system.
“What we need is more, not less investment. Additional funding must be made available to allow closed wards to open and relieve the pressure on this seriously overcrowded system. There also needs to be a concerted move towards community healthcare in order to free up more beds in the hospital system. This can only be achieved through additional funding and strong leadership, and I’m calling on Minister Varadkar to learn from the mistakes of his predecessor and ensure that an adequate health budget is allocated this October”.