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Government inaction on ED crisis is crippling health service and costing lives – O’Reilly

2 February, 2017 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

With 517 people on trollies currently across the State’s hospitals, Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that Government inaction on the ED crisis is crippling health service and costing lives. She said that they are normalising this situation for patients as system wide failures in health persist.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“The Programme for Government speaks of a four pronged approach to reduce emergency department overcrowding. But the translation of the four aspirations into reality has been a complete failure.

 “Today, there are 517 people on trollies according to Trolley Watch. 

“Record numbers of 612 patients on trollies in January was attributable to an outbreak of flu. This outbreak of flu was apparently ‘unforeseeable’ by the Minister. It was, apparently, a ‘perfect storm’. We cannot forget that, in 2006, the then Minister for Health declared that 486 people on trolleys was a ‘national emergency’ which required a significant, and sustained, response. Regrettably, history shows that this didn’t happen.  

“Yesterday, there were 601 people on trollies.

“Currently, we have 95% to 100% occupancy in our acute hospitals week in, week out. The main problem that we face now is that this Government seem to be normalising this existence for emergency patients and those attending our hospitals.

“The HSE Service Plan contains commitments to expand certain services.  However, it fails to recognise that existing services cannot be maintained; they advise that 105 beds are currently closed due to staff shortages- and offers no explanation as to how the staff, for any expanded service, will be found.

“Our chronic emergency department crisis is endemic of system wide failures: higher levels of unmet need, poor access to diagnostic outside of the hospital setting and long waiting lists for procedures. Crowding is Emergency Departments is not caused by Emergency Departments but by a capacity deficit across the entire health system. 

“The only way in which we can address this overcrowding is integrating care through a series of initiatives. Ireland needs capacity built into General Practise, into Community Care, into our acute hospitals. We know it now.  We knew it in 2006.

“However, we will still see headlines about the trolley crisis again next year unless capacity is built into acute hospital beds- hospital beds must be built, opened and staffed. Sinn Féin budgeted for this last year in our pre budget submission. 

“Government inaction on these issues is crippling our health service and costing lives. The Minister must engage urgently with unions and representatives, as well as working with other Departments to ensure that we can build capacity into our public system now and into the future.” 

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