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Government gambling with patients' lives - O Caoláin

14 January, 2015 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has commended nurses for their brave stand against the Health Minister’s lack of action on the hospital overcrowding crisis. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) is today organising a protest outside Dáil Éireann to force the Minister to act to ensure that the record high number of 601 patients awaiting admission and forced to wait on trolleys in our country’s hospitals is not repeated.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said;

 “Today sees the INMO demanding that the current crisis facing our Emergency Departments be dealt with. It is an indictment of the current Minister’s failure to deal with the crisis. Nurses and their supporters are today attempting to force Minister Varadkar into action. Through his cavalier attitude he has been grossly insensitive to all patients who have suffered the indignity and the danger of long waits on trolleys.

“I support all the hardworking and conscientious nurses protesting here today and their hardworking colleagues in hospitals across the country. They are demanding action and we in Sinn Féin support this demand. The Minister must act immediately to ensure that the crisis is properly addressed and he must also ensure that it will not occur again next year.

“What can be done? There are many solutions that the Minister appears to refuse to examine. The HSE had sought €106.5 million to free up hospital beds and reduce overcrowding of which only €25million was granted. Despite record numbers awaiting appropriate placements Minister Varadkar has not requested additional funds to deal with the problem. Additional funds are needed to support an adequate number of home care packages and for the re-commissioning of wards and the provision of the required additional step down beds to assist in discharging the some 800 elderly patients in pre-discharge beds.

 “We also need an attractive recruitment campaign to bring nurses back to Ireland to alleviate under-staffing. We also need to plan for the significant challenges of an ageing population including long-term residential care requirements. The emergency department taskforce should meet regularly until this crisis is successfully addressed, and it must also ensure that a system is in place to meet the problem head-on before it re-occurs.

“Consultants, the senior decision makers, must ensure that they are present to ease admission, discharge and fast-track treatment.

“The conditions in A&Es across the country are such that nursing and medical staff are avoiding this area leaving it harder and harder to recruit. This now annual gamble by Government uses patients’ lives as stakes” concluded Ó Caoláin.

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