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Minister must explain if deferral of essential surgeries was part of his Winter Plan – O’Reilly

7 January, 2019 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking this afternoon, Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the Minister for Health Simon Harris must explain if he instructed hospitals to defer essential surgery appointments for patients in order to manufacture lower numbers of patients on trolleys in the post-Christmas period.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“As the number of patients on trolleys begins to escalate again, the Minister for Health must confront the allegation that there was widespread deferral of essential surgery appointments in the post-Christmas period in order to ensure that trolley numbers would appear dramatically reduced.

“The Minister for Health must be up front about his winter plan and explain if, as part of that plan, he instructed that essential surgeries for patients be deferred in order to manufacture lower numbers of patients on trolleys.

“Over the Christmas period, Minister Harris stated that the reduction in overcrowding was due to ‘positive initiatives’ in his Winter Plan, but he must now explain the exact nature of the instructions he gave in the implementation of this plan.

“The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has said that the lower trolley numbers seen after Christmas ‘must be assessed in the light of the widespread deferral of essential surgery appointments in January’.

“If this has indeed happened, the reduced numbers are only slight of hand and the Minister has not addressed the problem, rather he has shifted the burden onto patients waiting for essential surgeries.

“The Minister needs to make a statement about these allegations.

“Furthermore, he must also definitively address the causative factors of the trolley crisis once and for all – namely, reopen all closed beds and increasing capacity, address the recruitment and retention crisis, significantly increase step down facilities and home care packages, and properly invest in primary and community care.

“For over seven years now, Fine Gael have not done this. Instead, they attack frontline workers who raise these concerns and insult anyone who questions their failures in health.” 

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