Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson, Billy Kelleher has said that Minister Simon Harris has become the 3rd Fine Gael Health Minister in a row to fail to deal with the overcrowding crises in our Emergency Departments.

Deputy Kelleher was commenting following the release of figures from the INMO that showed that 493 were lying on trolleys across Irish hospitals, including a staggering 54 in Cork University Hospital this morning.

“This just isn’t acceptable. Last week, we saw the national figures rise above 500 for the first time since March.”

“The Minister announced with great fanfare, and then re-announced the 2016 / 2017 Winter Initiative with a budget that simply wasn’t sufficient to provide the resources to get people off of trolleys, and into beds in wards.”

“I know many of the doctors, nurses and management in Cork University Hospital. They are doing their level best to deal with the situation, and make sure patients get the best possible care and support.”

“The reality is that the Department of Health, and senior HSE management, have failed to address the fact that not enough beds are being made available for acute patients, and that not enough Home Care packages are being provided to elderly patients to enable them be discharged from hospital, and back into their homes.”

“This isn’t new. The Government, and three successive Fine Gael Ministers for Health, have known about these challenges for the past six years.”

“The Minister can continue to spin that he has the largest health budget in history, but to the patients lying on trolleys through the night, that is very cold comfort,” concluded Kelleher.