Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Stephen Donnelly has defended doctors, nurses and healthcare workers after the Taoiseach’s suggestion that their already limited Christmas and New Year leave are adding to the country’s health crisis.
Deputy Donnelly explained, “Leo Varadkar has incensed doctors and nurses by insinuating that when they take time off they’re contributing to waiting lists and overcrowding problems.
“Patients are not left lying on trolleys because medics want to spend a few days with their families. Patients are left lying on trolleys because the Government fails year after year to plan for completely predictable events. It’s no surprise to anyone that Christmas and the New Year is coming. It happens each year. What is a surprise, however, is that the Government hasn’t ensured that the health system is able to deal with a pattern we see every 12 months.
“This isn’t a Christmas crisis; it’s a winter crisis – one that now begins in September. Are doctors and nurses to be blamed for that too? We all know that the winter flu leads to a big influx of people seeking help in January. Plans to deal with that fact need to be made long in advance so we’re not left with a last minute scramble for cover. Indeed the right plans would not only make adequate provision for recurring events, but they’d also allow staff reasonable rosters, while still protecting patients.
“The right plans would take practical steps like reversing FEMPI for GPs to help reduce the numbers being sent to A&E in the first place. The right plans would unwind new entrant pay disparity for consultants and nurses eradicating understaffing in emergency departments and the right plans would give A&E priority access to diagnostics with longer opening hours and eliminate bottlenecks in the service.
“What’s needed here is foresight and preparation. But sadly what we’re getting at the moment is blame and deflection. I defy the Taoiseach to suggest that medical, nursing and health care staff don’t work hard. He and the Health Minister need to acknowledge their dedication and support them to do their jobs for all our sakes”, concluded Donnelly.