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Is this still a national emergency, Minister Harney? – Ó Caoláin

13 January, 2009 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Commenting on the gross overcrowding in Accident and Emergency in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda and in other hospitals across the State, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has challenged Health Minister Harney to state if she still regards this as the "national emergency" which she declared in 2006 when there were actually fewer patients on trolleys.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The intolerable situation in the A&E Department of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda is a damning indictment of abject Government failure to address the real needs of our hospitals and patients. Figures for patients waiting on trolleys and chairs in A&E and in waiting rooms, corridors and other inappropriate settings have reached record levels in January 2009.

"Health Minister Harney described the A&E situation as a 'national emergency' on 29 March 2006. On that day there were 384 people on trolleys. Nearly three years later on 6 January 2009 there were 425. That was also higher than the highest figure for January 2006. I challenge Minister Harney to state if she still regards this as a national emergency?

"The Irish Nurses Organisation has correctly pointed out that a major contributory factor in the A&E crisis is the transfer to the Lourdes Hospital of services previously provided at other hospitals in the North East, including trauma and orthopaedic, without putting the resources in place to cope with the additional demands. This situation is set to worsen greatly if the Government allows the HSE to proceed with plans to centralise further and place even greater pressure on the Lourdes Hospital and on Cavan General Hospital." ENDS

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