The Tánaiste has refused to deny reports that the true extent of the A&E overcrowding crisis is being concealed, Fianna Fáil’s Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher has said.

Deputy Kelleher raised the issue with Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore on Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil this morning.

“The INMO at their annual conference have raised a very serious concern that some hospitals are being forced into a situation where they’re trying to hide the extent of their overcrowding by placing patients on trolleys in inpatient wards.  This could only be happening on foot of extraordinary pressure on management to keep the figures down.  This kind of process is not the norm and is not in the interest of patient safety.

“The Tánaiste refused to deny that this was happening at some of our hospitals when I raised this with him in the Dáil this morning.  The simple fact of the matter is that Minister Reilly is putting so much pressure on the need for the figures to be reduced that the real issue is being ignored.  These people are patients and they shouldn’t be getting pushed around hospitals to avoid showing up in calculations that are genuinely trying to ascertain the extent of the problem.

According to figures released from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, 26,106 patients were waiting on trolleys in the first four months of this year.  The figures also showed that 2,402 beds are closed around the country, the majority of which are acute hospital beds.

“These figures show that a third more patients waiting on hospital trolleys now than in 2007.  This massive number is simply unacceptable.  Significant issues remain with increased number of patients waiting on trolleys at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin and Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda.”

“We need the real figures on what our hospitals are facing on a daily basis not the spin put up by Minister Reilly’s SDU.  It is only when the true extent of the problem is known that it can be addressed properly.  The Minister should take charge, work with hospitals to deal with the issue, and not simply increase pressure on local management to conceal the true extent of the crisis.”