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Minister for Health must take the lead in tackling hospital crisis and ensure whole-system response – David Cullinane TD

4 January, 2023 - by David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has said that the Minister for Health must show real leadership and take the lead in tackling the crisis in public hospitals.

Teachta Cullinane called for a series of measures which would marshal all available healthcare resources across the entire system to alleviate pressure on acute hospitals and improve management of emergency care.

The TD for Waterford called on the Minister to convene daily meetings with HSE leadership and regularly engage with regional management to ensure all public and private healthcare resources are being used to the best effect. 

Teachta Cullinane said:

“The Minister for Health needs to convene daily meetings with senior HSE management to ensure that all available public and private healthcare resources are being used to the best effect.

“The Minister should also engage frequently with regional management to ensure they are fully supported to use all capacity in their areas to support emergency departments.

“The Minister must ensure that best practice from the top performing hospitals is applied across the board to steer the health service through this crisis.

“This must involve prioritising emergency and urgent care, redeploying staff from elective care to emergency departments, and using hospital capacity normally reserved for day-case and elective care to provide surge capacity.

“The health service must maximise the use of smaller and private hospitals to provide elective care and surge capacity, where appropriate, to alleviate pressures on major acute hospitals.

“The Minister should maximise the deployment of senior doctors and appropriate specialists to emergency departments and wards to ensure that experienced decision makers are available at all times. 

“There must be greater collaboration between community healthcare and acute hospitals to ensure that recovery and transitional care beds are available in the community for speedy discharges and the provision of care outside of hospitals where appropriate. 

“There must also be greater engagement with GPs, especially those providing out-of-hours services, to better support primary care which is also overwhelmed with respiratory infections.

“There is a responsibility on the Minister to marshal all available healthcare resources across the entire system and put them to best use to tackle the emergency care crisis in acute hospitals.

“Record overcrowding is caused, in part, by the winter surge in Covid, RSV, and flu, but this level of overcrowding is due to Government failure to sufficiently invest in healthcare capacity and staffing over the last decade.

“Hospitals should operate at 80-85% capacity outside of winter to ensure we have capacity for surges, yet we had a summer trolley crisis this year. Most hospitals have been operating at near or above 100% capacity year-round, which meant that this crisis was not only predictable but inevitable.”

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