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Emergency debate on health crisis demanded by Ó Caoláin

19 January, 2010 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called for an emergency Dáil debate on the crisis in the public health services due to Budget spending cutbacks, pays cuts and pending industrial action, overcrowding in A&E departments, the downgrading of hospitals and the HSE plan to close a further 1,100 beds in 2010. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“Health Minister Harney has on her desk a draft Service Plan for 2010 from the HSE which, if implemented, would be a recipe for disaster. It proposes the closure of a further 1,100 acute hospital beds and the reduction of hospital admissions by tens of thousands in 2010.

“The crisis in our public health services deepened over the Christmas and New Year period. Staff came under huge pressure due to the many casualties from the prolonged freeze and now they face months of further cutbacks on top of the existing bed and staff shortages.

“We have seen an increase in the number of patients on trolleys in A&E departments, 426 yesterday (Monday) compared to 313 at the same time last year. Overcrowding and staff shortages have led to the spread of hospital infections such as the recent C Difficile outbreak in the North East.

“On top of all this we have the continuing downgrading of hospitals, the latest being the decision to close the 40-bed St. Michael’s Unit psychiatric ward in South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel. I visited South Tipperary General Hospital last year and was impressed by the standard of care and the commitment of staff, as well as the determination of staff and patients and the wider community to maintain services in the Hospital. I know from the experience of Monaghan General Hospital that the gradual removal of services is part of Government and HSE strategy to increasingly centralise services, reducing hospital care overall and forcing people to travel further for that care.” ENDS

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