March 4, 2020
Concentrated effort needed to reduce trolley numbers in case of serious public health emergency – Louise O’Reilly TD

Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has said a concentrated effort is needed now more than ever before to reduce the number of patients on trolleys.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“February saw 23% increase in the number of patients on trolleys compared to last year with 10,000 people waiting hours, and in some cases days, on trolleys and chairs in order to be admitted to a hospital bed.

“With recent international health events it is massively important that every effort is made to reduce the number of patients on trolleys and ensure that our health services have capacity and scope to deal with any public health situation.

“We need to reopen all closed beds in our acute hospital network and we need to make sure the beds opened under the Winter Plan stay open full time, and to do this we need the staff. However, our hospitals are understaffed, and this is affecting not just those trying to get into them, but also those already in hospital.

“The recruitment crisis has been the cause of a serious issues facing our health service now, and this poses a serious threat as we face into the possibility of a serious public health emergency.

“Earlier in the week the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation stated that ‘qualified healthcare staff are queueing up to work, but hospitals are unable to hire them’.

“The recruitment ban in the health service should not have been imposed and the results of it are devastating the health service, it needs to be lifted as a matter of urgency, particularly as we face a potentially serious public health emergency in the shape of the Covid 19. 

“Furthermore, we need to create additional capacity in our hospital network, to do this we need to tackle delayed discharges and ensure patients are discharged into the most appropriate care setting.

“This will need the immediate lifting of the freeze on home help hours so that those patients who are in hospital awaiting a home help package can be discharged home.

“There are longer term measures which also need to be taken, but in the here and now the caretaker Minister for Health needs to make every single effort to reduce the number of patients on trolleys and get our health services ready for any possible public health emergency.”

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