Patient safety at risk to due government cuts and underinvestment – McDonald
Sinn Féin Deputy Leader, Mary Lou McDonald TD, took the Tánaiste to task on the worsening crisis in our health system in the wake of news of industrial action in Beaumont due to concerns over understaffing and patient safety.
Deputy McDonald said:
“Tánaiste the crisis in our health system is getting worse. This morning we learn that 99% of INMO members in Beaumont hospital have voted for industrial action. This is not a dispute over pay. It is a dispute over patient safety
“According to the INMO, staff levels have been decimated. The nurses are telling you that it is impossible to provide a safe level of care to patients. These are not my words – they are the words of the professionals.
“We are told that staff are close to burnout. Their workloads are impossible. They have been highlighting serious concern with management for some time. But nurse levels continue to fall - the situation continues to deteriorate.
“Beaumont hospital is short 45 nurses in the medical and surgical divisions alone. Today there are 22 patients in that hospital on trolleys. My own local hospital, The Mater, is 100 nurses short and today has 29 people on trolleys. In fact as we speak, the Mater is on the verge of triggering the Full Capacity Protocol - that is how bad the situation is.
“Tánaiste, why is this? The answer is very simple – today there are 4,500 less nurses in the health service than when you took office. This is the result of your health policy - you refuse to invest and to reform. It seems you prefer to give tax breaks to the rich than invest in more nurses, home help hours or nursing home beds.
“Your Teflon Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, has abandoned your government’s big idea. You now have no plan. Worse still you have no clue.
“Tánaiste, you really have some cheek to call for constructive engagement from nurses who are literally at the end of their tether. Stressed out of their minds and managing an impossibly and utterly chaotic situation in our hospitals. It takes gall of the highest order for you to appeal to these people to be constructive. They are more than constructive. They are managing day on day, the chaos that your government has caused in our hospitals.
“Given the scale of the crisis do you have confidence in the Minister for Health? And can you tell the staff and patients at Beaumount and beyond, Tánaiste, how you will ensure patient safety?”