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Adams warns of Winter Trolley crisis

12 December, 2018 - by Gerry Adams TD

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has called on the government to “urgently provide the greater bed capacity in our hospitals that is needed if we are to avoid a major crisis in our Emergency Departments over the winter months”.

The Louth TD criticised the Government’s Winter Plan for additional resources as “inadequate, and too little too late.”

The Louth TD said:

“Last month witnessed the worst overcrowding in our emergency departments since records began. Almost 10,000 admitted patients had to wait on chairs and trolleys for beds. Before the year has ended, over one hundred thousand patients have already been forced to wait long hours in emergency departments awaiting beds. This is the first time that that number has been reached.

“The reality is that the primary cause of delays in patients being admitted to a hospital bed is lack of capacity within the health system. There are not enough beds and insufficient staff, caused primarily by low pay levels in Irish nursing and midwifery. According to the HSE census, as of September 2018, the health service has 227 fewer staff nurses than December 2017

“Last week, I was among a group of Oireachtas members who were briefed by representatives and frontline healthcare workers from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA), and SIPTU.

“The health workers painted a bleak picture of the daily crisis they are forced to manage as a result of under resourcing. They pointed out that long waiting times and overcrowding impacts on the quality of care for patients’ outcomes and on mortality. As their response to this crisis the Irish Medical Organisation has produced a six point plan for ending this crisis.

“Among a range of recommendations, the IMO has called for:

·        An increase in the number of acute hospital beds

·        An urgent assessment of the number of acute inpatient psychiatric beds

·        A detailed ten year investment plan

·        Invest in the roll out of a national system of electronic health records

·        Improvement in the discharge of patients

·        Increase the number of consultant posts in all specialities.

·        Provide General Practice with direct and timely access to diagnostics

“There was also unanimity at the briefing that all closed beds need to be immediately reopened and that we have to significantly increase capacity as a matter of urgency in order to cope with changing demographics.

“The frontline staff have returned again and again to the problem of recruitment and retention and the failure of the government to deal with this key issue.

“January and February are traditionally the worst months for trolley numbers. The Government’s Winter Plan which was belatedly published last week will be insufficient to tackle the winter crisis. As usual, the government left it to the last minute before publishing its proposals. They are inadequate and too little, too late to effectively address the trolley crisis. The plan does not increase bed capacity to a level needed to meet expected demand nor does it deal with the critical issue of recruitment and retention of staff.”

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