Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Sligo-Leitrim Shane Ellis says a high number of vacant posts at hospitals across the West and North West is one of the primary causes of high waiting lists and overcrowded Emergency Departments.

He was responding to new figures released to Fianna Fáil, which reveal a total of 228 vacancies in the Saolta University Health Care Group.

Ellis has expressed concern at the numbers, and has called on the Health Minister to address the issue of widespread vacancies as a matter of urgency.

“The fact that six of our acute hospitals are operating without a full complement of staff is extremely worrying.  The situation at Galway University Hospital is particularly worrying, especially given the fact that it is the main centre for cancer treatment and other specialist disciplines.  There are more than 80 vacancies there – 11 medical posts and 30 nursing positions.  Sligo University Hospital has the second highest vacancy rate with 4 medical posts and 21 nursing jobs unfilled”, said Ellis.

“Is it any wonder that patients in the North West are facing such long waiting times for routine appointments and procedures when there simply aren’t enough doctors, nurses and support staff on duty?

“The medical professionals already on the ground are under severe pressure and going above and beyond for their patients, but without the required staff complements across our hospitals, the situation will not improve.

“We need to see a plan put in place for the Saolta University Healthcare Group to fill all these vacancies. Unless they are filled, we will continue to see bad headlines about overcrowding and waiting lists, and that’s just not acceptable,” concluded Ellis.