Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Stephen Donnelly has hit out at Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for moving the goalposts on acceptable levels of hospital overcrowding and hospital waiting lists over his near decade in Cabinet.

“Leo Varadkar has spent 9 years in Cabinet flip-flopping on acceptable safety standards in our health services.  He has made a litany of empty promises to patients and medical professionals, each of which have been broken to a spectacular extent,” said Deputy Donnelly.

“In 2015 as Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar was ‘sick to death’ of hospital overcrowding. He said no one should be on a trolley for more than 9 hours.  Now in 2020, he is happy to reduce his own targets and allow 20% of patients to wait on trolleys for more than 9 hours.  Fine Gael has stood over the weakening of the 9-hour target from 99% in 2019 to 80% in 2020. 

“In 2015, Leo Varadkar said that no one would be on a hospital waiting list for more than 18 months by June 2015.  But in December 2019 with Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach, more than 100,000 people were waiting more than 18 months.

“This week the NHS published a report stating that 1 in 86 patients are at increased risk of death when a patient is kept on a trolley for more than 6 hours.  This is alarming. It shows that lives are being put at risk daily, due to the extreme overcrowding at Irish hospitals and the lack of political will for immediate measures to alleviate the crisis.

“Fine Gael has no credible plan to tackle hospital waiting lists and emergency department overcrowding immediately.   The only thing we have seen from Leo Varadkar is empty words, lacking any conviction, intention or empathy.  Meanwhile his colleague, the Minister for Health Simon Harris has been missing in action during the general election campaign.

”Fianna Fáil is the only party that will take the immediate measure of doubling funding for the National Treatment Purchase Fund to take people off hospital waiting lists as a matter of urgency, while also implementing Sláintecare.”