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Minister Harris must drop the rhetoric and get to grips with health crisis – O’Reilly

18 November, 2016 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking today at a protest outside the Department of Health as part of a Sinn Féin weekend of action on the health crisis, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that Minister Simon Harris needs to drop the constant rhetoric and get to grips with the health crisis.

The Dublin Fingal TD highlighted the trolley numbers, lack of a bed capacity review, impending balloting for industrial action and staffing crisis as examples how the Minister is failing abysmally to deal with the crisis in health, particularly in the turbulent winter period.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“It is very clear that Minister Harris’s inaction on the crisis in our emergency departments and acute hospitals is resulting in worsening trolley and overcrowding figures. We have seen it this week with numbers peaking at 528 in one day. This is unacceptable.

“We have heard much of the bed capacity review from Minister Harris, particularly in the last month, yet in a parliamentary question to me this week, he confirmed that the parameters and terms of reference for the review have yet to be determined. This is disgraceful. It is about Minister Harris dropped the rhetoric and got to grips with the health crisis.

“As ever, we see a Government fond of Ministerial announcements and plans, but short on action and results. 

“The persistent under-resourcing of primary and community care means people end up in hospital when they should and could be cared for in the community. The Minister was quick to announce building new primary care centres, but not one of the recently announced 14 PCCs will have a single additional staff member employed. How can we alleviate the pressures on hospitals when we aren’t resourcing primary care?

“Coupled with this is the INMO ballot of members because of the working environment and the failure of management to recruit and retain nursing and midwifery staff. In terms of total staffing, we continue to have almost 4,000 less Nursing and Midwifery posts in the health service, than we had in 2008. Staff are increasingly struggling to deliver a high standard of care in an unsafe environment and this cannot continue.

“Our health system is in a state of crisis. Our public health services are being starved of resources. Trolley numbers have spiked, waiting lists stretch into years, we are in the grips of the winter crisis period and medical staff trained at home are leaving in droves due to poor working conditions. Meanwhile Minister Harris is doing nothing. 

“The Minister needs to deal with these issues aggressively and that means addressing working conditions, training and career pathways and pay; it means reopening beds; it means investing in the public system, as opposed to diverting funds to the private sector.” 

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