"More beds needed to address A&E crisis" - Ó Caoláin
"The claim by the Health Service Executive that this report shows a major improvement in A&E services is undermined by their admission that they only begin counting the waiting time for a patient in A&E from when a consultant decides to admit them as in-patients. No account is taken of the time - often many hours - spent waiting to be seen by a consultant.
"Seriously ill patients are still spending many hours and sometimes days in A&E because sufficient beds are not available to admit them to hospital wards. If beds aren't available in wards the patients have to wait in A&E. As a result people face overcrowded and unsafe conditions. Older people and children especially suffer much distress and indignity.
"The Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrats Government in 2001 set a target of 3000 additional hospital beds. It has failed to make any real progress towards that target despite our growing and ageing population. To make matters worse, the Health Service Executive Chief, Brendan Drumm, who was appointed by the Government claims that this number of beds is not required!
"Health Minister Mary Harney must sort out this contradiction at the heart of Government policy. The only proposal she has come up with to provide the extra beds needed is her shambolic scheme to allocate land at public hospital sites to private hospital developers. That plan should be scrapped and public money should be used to provide beds in public hospitals."