Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has expressed serious concern that hospitals across the State are not equipped to deliver safe and timely care.
He said that the opportunity to build up bed capacity to tackle overcrowding had been squandered over the last four years.
The TD for Waterford was responding to comments made by Prof Conor Deasy, President of the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine, who warned of a “massive capacity issue” in hospitals.
Teachta Cullinane said that healthcare workers are working around the clock to make emergency departments as safe as possible. He said that they are working with one hand tied behind their back because they lack the bed, diagnostic, and theatre capacity that they need.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“The situation in hospital emergency departments is chaotic. The Government abandoned patients and workers when they made a deliberate decision to underfund the health service in the Budget and failed to make investments in capacity over the last three Budgets. Hospitals simply don’t have the infrastructure that they need.
“It seems that Government has become immune to the unsafe, degrading, and undignified experience many patients face in overcrowded hospitals. I agree entirely with Prof Conor Deasy, President of the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine. People deserve help in the right places when they need it. Patients who need emergency or urgent care should not put off attending hospital due to long waits, but the long waits need to be addressed.
“Healthcare workers are working around the clock to make emergency departments as safe as possible, but they are working with one hand tied behind their back because they lack the bed, diagnostic, and theatre capacity that they need.
“The opportunity to build up capacity over the last four years has been squandered. We know there is a 1,000-bed deficit, and that is reflect in the trolley figures on a daily basis and in tens of thousands of cancelled appointments every month.
“Low trolley figures over the Christmas break was achieved through a wholesale cancellation of planned appointments and surgeries. That was not sustainable, and we are seeing the consequences of this now. Investment in home care is needed to allow older people to remain at home rather than in hospital, but the Government has failed to put in place the statutory home care scheme promised in the Programme for Government.
“The Government must urgently revise their budget for the health service in 2024 to target severe deficits – they must fund the promised 1500 hospital beds and deliver the statutory home care scheme.”