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Tallaght Hospital – an example of all that is wrong with the Irish healthcare system – Deputy Seán Crowe

6 July, 2011 - by Seán Crowe TD

Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday evening on a Sinn Féin Private Members’ Bill which seeks to secure funding for essential services in hospitals across the Irish State, Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe highlighted problems with Tallaght Hospital, a facility which he believes illustrates much of what is wrong with the Irish healthcare system.

He said: “It is important that we secure funding for essential services in hospitals across this island. Our Health system is failing people and nowhere is this more clearly recognised than in my own constituency of Dublin South West, where Tallaght Hospital, despite the best efforts of its hard pressed staff, exemplifies much of what is wrong with the Irish healthcare system.

“The way a nation treats its most vulnerable and sick citizens reflects how a society functions. Through the tabling of this Bill, Sinn Féin is calling on the government to stand by its pre-election commitments and respond to the worsening crisis that is denying access to even the most basic care.

“The failure of successive governments to provide adequate funding to ensure the sustainability and development of essential services has had a significant impact on the lives’ of people who are dependent on the public health services when sick or injured.

“Tallaght Hospital has the busiest A&E Unit in the country, and in 2010 - 93,000 people were treated there yet it remains, since its opening, chronically under-funded. In a recent newspaper article a patient described its corridors as being a ‘breeding ground for infectious bacteria’ a view substantiated by Dublin county coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty who described the Hospital as being a “very dangerous place”.

“His comments were made after a local man, Thomas Walsh, died after being admitted to Tallaght Hospital with severe ankle pain. He had been left in a so called ‘virtual ward’, a euphemism for abandoning sick patients in hospital corridors while awaiting a bed in a ward.

“The sheer obscenity of having dozens of sick patients lying on trolleys with no privacy, a lack of basic hygiene facilities, and no real health supports brings into sharp focus the cuts in our health system.

“I was there one night when over 50 patients lay in rows of trollies. A family grieved around the bedside of their elderly mother – no dignity for the dying no dignity in life.

“I welcome the fact that the HIQA has published the terms of reference for its statutory inquiry into the safety and governance of care at Tallaght’s Emergency department. I understand that under the eight terms of reference, the inquiry will assess the quality, safety and governance, and accountability for services provided to patients who attend the emergency department. It will also examine if the board of the hospital has been effective in managing risks to patients.

“The inquiry must take place immediately and the focus must be in implementing radical improvements at the hospital.” ENDS

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