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Trolley crisis only a surprise to ‘blinkered’ Minster – O’Reilly

5 January, 2017 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has today hit out against the Minister for Health Simon Harris’s claims that no one could have anticipated the extent of the emergency department overcrowding and trolley crisis. Deputy O’Reilly said that the crisis was predicted, but the blinkered Minister failed to heed these warnings from the HSE, unions and frontline staff.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“Today, it has been reported that the HSE warned in their draft plan that the winter initiative could be ineffective if there was an outbreak of flu, bad weather or other factors. These same reports identify that the Department of Health requested that this warning be omitted.

“If this is the case, the Minister has a lot of questions to answer, namely: Why was this removed? Did he have previous knowledge of this warning and/or its removal? Who in his Department was responsible for this? And what other warnings on our health system are being hidden so as to bolster the reputation of the Minister and his Department?

“The fact is the trolley crisis and overcrowding crisis has not come out of the blue. It is the manifestation of a myriad of failures right across the health service which, despite what the Minister says, has been predicted by unions, staff and indeed the HSE itself. The issue is that the Minister appears to be blinkered to these warnings and has failed to address the underlying issues. We are in the grip of a winter crisis and it seems he is content to let this play out as such, putting lives at risk and overwhelming the already creaking health service.

“Our health system is in a state of perpetual crisis. Our public health services are being starved of resources. It is very clear that Government inaction on the crisis in our emergency departments and acute hospitals is resulting in worsening trolley and overcrowding figures. The Minister has referred repeatedly to a bed capacity review and yet, despite a commitment given in May (as part of the programme for government), this review still has not been completed and we have not even seen terms of reference for this vital exercise.

“The Minister needs to deal with these issues aggressively rather than burying his head in the sand and blaming ignorance.” 

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