Record levels of hospital overcrowding show need for emergency action - O'Reilly
Speaking this morning Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has criticised the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, and the Government on the back of the latest figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) which show that for the first six months of the year Irish hospitals recorded the highest levels of overcrowding since records began.
Deputy O’Reilly said:
“Fifty one thousand three hundred and twenty one. That is the number of people who were forced to spend a night or more on a trolley for the first six months of this year. These are not just statistics, they are human beings. They are grandparents, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters.
“The number of patients on trolleys for the first six months of the year represents the highest ever recorded number since the INMO started collating such figures. The trolley watch numbers for the month itself are also a complete disgrace with 7, 124 patients on trolleys, representing a 21% increase on June 2016.
“The trolley crisis, like the waiting list crisis, is a symptom of a health service with huge capacity issues, beds and staff, as well as problems regarding the recruitment and retention of healthcare staff.
“Due to the legacy of the recruitment embargo and funding cuts thereafter, beds have been closed, staff have been lost, and the capacity of the health service is far too small. Currently, staffing shortages are leading to the closure of both acute and long-term beds in many hospitals.
"These figures today are a sign of a deeper malaise within the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE), as well as being evidence that our health service cannot cope with the demand being placed on it due to completely inadequate bed and staffing levels and point to the need for emergency action.
“The huge increase in the number of patients on trolleys for the year to date also exposes Minister Harris’ claims that our nurses are coming back and that his recruitment drive is working.
“The plain fact of the matter is the Government’s nursing recruitment drive which aims to attract 100 nurses each month into the health service is failing. The truth is that it is only currently managing to attract around 32 nurses per month.
"Unless Minister Harris shows the leadership necessary and addresses the main issue of capacity – the lack of adequate beds and staff – then it will be the same story in six months’ time as beds and services will continue to be curtailed and trolley numbers will continue to grow.
“The Minister must acknowledge that his efforts to date are not working and he needs to bring forward emergency measures to the A&E Taskforce meeting today”