Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow – Kilkenny Bobby Aylward has said that Minister for Health Simon Harris has failed to deliver on his commitment to address the chronic overcrowding in our country’s Emergency Departments.

Deputy Aylward made the comments after receiving new information which shows that the number of people stuck on trolleys at St. Luke’s Hospital Emergency Department increased by 154% in the space of a year. There were 159 people on trolleys at the hospital in 2016, but this increased to 404 in May 2017.

Deputy Aylward said, “Successive Fine Gael Ministers have failed to get to grips with the problems at the Emergency Department in Kilkenny. It’s simply unacceptable that hundreds of people are forced to wait on trolleys on a monthly basis while waiting to access emergency care. Minister Harris is in office for over a year now yet his plan to tackle the overcrowding crisis still isn’t having the desired impact on the ground.

“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. We also need to see further investment in the Emergency Department at St. Luke’s to ensure it has the capacity to meet the growing demand for its services,” concluded Deputy Aylward.