Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Anne Rabbitte says the escalation in the national hospital overcrowding crisis must force the Health Minister into taking real action to tackle a problem, which has been spiralling out of control for years.  The record breaking figures of 600+ people waiting on hospital trolleys in Emergency Departments across the country has brought the issue back into focus and must be addressed without delay.

“The situation this week is completely unacceptable and has been generating justifiable outrage and anger among hospital staff, patients and their families.  Unfortunately the scenes witnessed in hospitals this week are all too familiar to people who have attended the Emergency Department at University Hospital Galway in recent months.  This week trolley figures at UHG revealed that there were 40 patients on trolleys on the busiest day of the year so far, however the stats from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation regularly show more than 30 people on trolleys in the UHG ED”, said Deputy Rabbitte.

“Successive Fine Gael Ministers have failed to get to grips with the problems at the Emergency Department in Galway, and despite promises to build a new ED, we’re still waiting.  While a new building would be welcome, the overcrowding problem nationally and locally is more deep rooted than that.

“Fianna Fáil has consistently called for a multi-faceted approach to tackle overcrowding.  This involves more beds, a greater focus on primary care facilities and the recruitment of additional healthcare staff.  Nursing Homes Ireland claims there are more than 700 beds available in nursing homes across the country.  These should be utilised as a matter of priority, through the Fair Deal scheme, so that older people who no longer need hospital treatment can be cared for in an appropriate setting, while freeing up essential acute beds in larger hospitals.

“Minister Harris should be utilising the valuable resources that community hospitals provide instead of trying to close them down.  These hospitals could be used as step down facilities and ease the pressure on acute hospitals.

“This overcrowding crisis is entirely predictable and unless the Government begins to take real and tangible action to address it properly, it will be a feature of our health service for many more years to come”.