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North West A&E crisis deepens

7 January, 2009

Sinn Féin North West EU Candidate and Donegal Councillor Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has described as ‘unacceptable’ the numbers of patients left on trolleys and chairs in hospitals A&E Departments across the North West this week.

The Donegal Councillor said:

 “Figures for patients waiting on trolleys and chairs in A&E and in waiting rooms, corridors and other inappropriate settings are again reaching record levels.

“On the 29th of March 2006 Health Minister Mary Harney described the A&E situation as a national emergency. On that day there were 384 people on trolleys. This week, nearly three years later, this figure has increased to a staggering 425 patients on trolleys as of January 6th 2009.

“In just three years the government has not only has the government and Health Minister failed to address the A&E ‘national emergency’ they are now content to the numbers further increase with the North West is feeling the brunt of their inaction. Of the 425 on trolleys on Tuesday 97 of these patients were in hospitals in the North West EU constituency.

“In Letterkenny, Sligo, Mayo, Cavan, Monaghan, and Portiuncula GeneralHospitals, University College Hospital Galway, and Roscommon County Hospital, patients were left on trolleys".

“All of these hospitals are under extreme pressure due to an inadequate number of beds. This is a fundamental problem throughout the country that dates back to the 1980s. With the mass immigration out of the country at that time the government closed down thousands of beds across the state. Despite the rapidly increasing population over the last decade the Department of Health has refused to reopen these beds despite pressure from patient groups and medical advisors to do so. They have chosen instead to increase bed numbers via private hospitals.

“In addition hospitals have to take in A&E patients from other regions. Casualties from a car crash in Ferbane Co Offally were directed to a local hospital in Galway from Tullamore and Mullingar. It is deeply alarming that resources at both these primary Midland hospitals are so depleted that they could not treat these patients and were forced to send them in an ambulance to another county.

“It is unacceptable that elected members of the government continue to support Health Minister Mary Harney’s failed agenda of privatisation. Our hospitals desperately need investment based on efficacy, transparency and a commitment to public service provision. Mary Harney as Minister for Health has pillaged our public services to the benefit of private interests. Working families and the vulnerable are paying heavy cost. Enough is enough.” ENDS

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