Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has called on the Health Minister to take immediate action to address the overcrowding crisis that is crippling hospital ED departments across the country.  Beaumont Hospital in Dublin has had to take the drastic measure of asking people not to show up at its ED, while Limerick Regional and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda are buckling under the pressure.

Deputy Kelleher commented, “Minister Varadkar is wringing his hands during a major crisis. Beaumont alone has been forced to cancel 14 planned cases today because of a shortage of beds.  The Minister’s claims that the crisis should ease in a few days will do nothing to comfort the dozens of seriously ill people who have been left in chairs or on trolleys over the weekend.

“The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has again called on the situation to be declared a national emergency in the wake of record overcrowding levels, and they are correct.  Hospitals are struggling to put contingency plans in place to cope with the excess demand, but there is no doubt that in these extreme situations patient safety is being compromised.

“Front line staff at Beaumont and other hospitals are going above and beyond their duty in completely unacceptable conditions but the Minister seems unwilling to intervene.  Acute staff shortages and bed closures have exacerbated an already difficult situation, which has led to a system that is now failing patients.  This is completely unacceptable.

“I have grave fears that this situation, which is already intolerable, will worsen over the coming weeks and months.  Winter is traditionally the busiest time for our hospitals, and with ED overcrowding already at crisis point, I am extremely worried that the system will collapse under any added strain.  I am urging Minister Varadkar to meet with senior HSE officials, the INMO and staff at the worst affected hospitals to devise a plan to tackle this crisis.  The urgency of this situation cannot be underestimated and can no longer be put on the backburner.  It is imperative that a solution is found without delay”.