Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Lisa Chambers says the publication of the HSE Winter Plan in the second week of December is another indication of just how dysfunctional the HSE and the management of the health service is.

Deputy Chambers said, “While I welcome the fact that the HSE has devised a winter plan for hospitals and community services to follow over the next few months, this strategy should have been published months ago.  The winter season is already underway and services across the health sector are already struggling to catch up.

“Doctors and nurses have been asking for this plan since the summer, and now, two weeks before Christmas, it is finally published.  This is indicative of the disorganisation and mismanagement within our health service and it undermines any confidence that people have in the system.

“Overcrowding is already and issue at Mayo University Hospital – with 29 people on trolleys today alone, and I’m unsure what impact this winter plan will have at this late stage.  The cancellation of certain elective procedures will also add to already unacceptably high waiting lists at the hospital.   If the HSE had engaged in long-term, advanced planning then routine medical help could still be offered, even during busy periods.

“Medical and nursing staff will be working tirelessly across the winter period, just as they do every other month of the year.  What we need is an integrated strategy that functions year round, not a winter strategy published in the middle of the winter.

“This time of year is always challenging for people working in the health service, and this year will be no different.  However, I believe it could have been, had the Minister had the desire and ambition to devise a comprehensive plan to improve efficiency, not just over the winter, but for the 12 months of the year”.