Harris’s winter plan "all smoke and mirrors" - Louise O'Reilly TD
Speaking this morning as 606 patients were left on trolleys in hospitals across the state, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that Simon Harris’s winter plan was "nothing but smoke and mirrors to cover the fact that all the problems causing the trolley crisis still remain".
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“Over the Christmas period we became accustomed to the sight of the Minister for Health in front of cameras claiming credit whenever patients on trolleys were lower than the same day the year before.
“It was an exercise in the sort of PR and spin which characterises this government, but it was also an indication of the fantasy world which members of this government live in.
“Imagine in any country with a functioning health system where the Minister for Health would stand in front of the national media lauding the fact that there were only, say, 300 patients on trolleys and expecting a pat on the back for this feat – it is beyond parody.
“Those in the health service said all throughout the last number of weeks that trolley numbers were down because the flu season hadn’t hit yet, elective surgeries had been cancelled as per Minister Harris’s winter plan, and that the public health system had purchased the use of additional beds off private hospitals.
“With the main problems of a lack of capacity and the recruitment and retention crisis unaddressed that we see 606 patients on trolleys today.
“A winter plan for the health service cannot be a smoke and mirrors exercise, it has to be a plan that prepares recalibrates the health service for the winter months to deal with an increase in the number of patients, but it has to come on the back of addressing the crucial issues of a lack of hospital beds and fixing the recruitment and retention crisis.
“The Minister for Health didn’t do any of the above, and it is little wonder that as hospitals have to start re-scheduling surgeries and private hospitals take back beds for their own use that patient numbers on trolleys are increasing.
“We don’t need PR and spin from the Minister for Health, we need workable solutions.
“It shows the measure of the current Minister when he is everywhere to be seen in moments of comfort and success, but is nowhere to be seen when there is challenge and difficulty.”