Emergency department report demonstrates clear failure to invest in hospitals – David Cullinane TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has said that reports of more than 40,000 people waiting more than 24 hours in an emergency department so far this year is of "no surprise to anyone familiar with the health service".
Teachta Cullinane, responding to a report from RTÉ this morning, said that hospital overcrowding has been routine for many years due to underinvestment in the health service.
The Waterford TD criticised the Government’s focus on one-off “winter plans” which are announced every year, saying that the problem is a lack of multi-annual planning and investment to tackle challenges in healthcare.
He outlined how Sinn Féin’s approach to healthcare would be to fund multi-annual capacity expansions rather than last minute plans which will not materialise for months or years after they are needed.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“The news today that more than 40,000 people have been left waiting more than 24 hours in an emergency department so far this year will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the health service.
“Frontline workers have been crying out for investment and assistance for many, many years but it has never happened at the scale needed to tackle long waits. Combined with the slow rollout of community healthcare reform to keep patients out of hospital, this is the natural consequence.
“The Government’s annual winter plan-approach is a perfect example of the failure of approach to date – the 70 hospital beds announced in last year’s winter plan have yet to be delivered, and so have more than 200 beds which were announced in the budget the year before that.
“The health service needs a serious, multi-annual capacity strategy which is funded over the lifetime of the plan. Hospital beds need lead in time to build physical capacity and recruit healthcare staff.
“The health service has been left to battle through yet another tough winter, and no last minute funding announcements will change this.
“The upcoming budget must mark a step-change in the Government’s approach to healthcare. In Sinn Féin’s alternative budget for Health, we outlined how we will not only train and deliver thousands of additional healthcare workers, but we also outlined a planned approach to growing hospital capacity by 2,000 beds over several years.
“We have also included proposals which would expand diagnostic capacity by 150,000 scans, and theatre capacity by 10%, as well as increase the number of healthcare workers in training by 24% on average across professions.
“The Government must lay out a multi-annual plan for expanding capacity in hospitals and in primary and community care so that we have enough GPs, consultants, nurses, and allied health and social care professionals, as well as beds, diagnostic capacity, and theatre capacity, in the years ahead.
“We will not solve the crisis in our acute hospitals without investing in community-based alternatives, which will require major investment in workforce planning and training more primary and community care health professionals.
“The problem in healthcare is that the Government and Ministers are always looking for quick wins, but there are no real quick wins in healthcare. It is doing a disservice to patients and staff because Government continue to fail to plan for the medium and long term, leaving hospitals in perennial crisis.
“Hospital capacity will never be delivered in a short few weeks, and the capacity is not needed only for winter. This approach makes a mockery of the health service and the trojan work of healthcare professionals.”