Speaking after the release by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation INMO trolley Watch figures for 2019, Sinn Féin TD for Limerick Maurice Quinlivan said:
“These figures whilst expected are a national disgrace. The Minister for Health and Fine Gael are clearly not fit for the role. Fine Gael have been in government for almost nine years now, and they have held the health portfolio since then. They have utterly failed the people of Limerick.
“The figures show a startling increase from a figure of 1,814 in 2006 when the figures were first collated to an unimaginable figure of 13,941 in 2019. This is truly appalling and shows utter contempt from the Government. These are not just figures they are real people, people we know, often family members and many of them elderly often lingering on trollies for hours or days.
“Unless the government change tack immediately and listen to the positive proposals from opposition parties, the crisis will continue into the future. Enda Kenny infamously said ‘I’ll end the scandal of patients on trolleys.’ What a lie that turned out to be.
“In Limerick, an extra 10,000 have had no bed last year in University hospital since the year Fine Gael came to power in 2011.
“After nine very unsuccessful years in government, Fine Gael have managed to escalate the trolley crisis to levels never seen before.
“There are many solutions ranging from ensuring increased investment for transitional care beds, adequate step-down facilities, home care packages, and home help hours to ensure that all patients who can be moved home or to a more appropriate care setting all these will help.
“Two key issues need to be addressed as a priority. Firstly, to tackle the issue of capacity in UHL hospital we need to start reopening all hospital beds closed during the austerity years in the region, including those in Nenagh, Ennis and St. John’s hospitals.
“Then secondly, in order to address the recruitment and retention crisis across all grades in the health service, the underlying difficulties causing this crisis have to be tackled. These issues are working conditions, facilities, supports, training opportunities, promotion opportunities, and pay.
“The 2019 figures of almost 14,000 people is a national scandal; it is both unacceptable and disgraceful.
“It is time to stop the spin and for the Government to get a handle on the appalling situation in UHL emergency department. Limerick people those who work in the hospital and use the hospital deserve so much better than this.
“I believe that this can be done if we have the political will to fully implement progressive alternatives.
“The situation cannot continue with these shocking figures. If almost 14,000 people on trolleys in Limerick University Hospital is not a wake-up call for this government one wonders when they will act decisively and intervene.
“We can see from nearly a decade in Government they have failed to deliver. The last decade truly has been a lost one for the people in Limerick who rely on University Hospital.
“Clearly the Minister isn’t up to the job or hasn’t the capacity to deliver the necessary resources needed for our hospital. It is time for him to go.”