Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Stephen Donnelly TD has said that if four relatively easy to implement policy changes were made in Irish hospitals, the impact of winter trolley crisis could be lessened.

Deputy Donnelly said, “Obviously, the long-term solution is to increase bed capacity in our public hospitals, but in the meantime we need to look at other ways of improving the flow of patients through our hospitals.

“First of all, hospitals must accept that the trolley crisis is as a result of the hospital being overcrowded and not simply the Emergency Department. This change in mind set should elicit a more coherent and efficient response from management.

“Secondly, EDs must be given priority access to diagnostic services such as CTs, MRIs and Echos. Many unnecessary admissions arise from needing access to scans that are only available to admitted patients.

“The opening hours of Radiology and other diagnostic departments must be extended in all public hospitals to 8am to 8pm at a minimum.

“Emergency escalation procedures must be enacted far earlier. All too often hospitals resist this as it will cause cancellations for elective procedures thereby reducing a hospital’s income from insurance providers. This isn’t an ideal outcome but it will free up capacity to treat and admit acute patients needing care.

“I am gravely worried that our health system will not cope with the coming winter. Tangible solutions are needed now if they are to have any impact in the coming months.

“I believe that many more solutions and suggestions are to be found by speaking to our ED doctors and nurses. However, for them to be implemented it would require the Minister and his officials to finally listen to those on the frontline.

“In particular, ED consultants and nurses must be given the resources they need to implement measures they know work including triage rooms and extra resuscitation beds. The Government must also ensure that ED’s are adequately staffed. Our ED’s are currently woefully under staffed relative to countries such as the UK and Australia.”