Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has called on the government to better support frontline healthcare workers and deliver safe staffing levels.
Teachta Cullinane made the remarks in response to extreme overcrowding in emergency departments this week and to support calls from nurses and midwives at their conference.
The Waterford TD called on the Minister for Health to get ahead of the crisis in hospitals with a multi-annual capacity and workforce plan that deals with the chronic overcrowding in hospitals, delivers alternative care options in the community, and strategically plan the development of the healthcare workforce to achieve safe staffing levels.
He said the government must also address housing and cost of living barriers faced in particular by young workers.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“The problems in our hospitals have only gotten worse under this government. Morale across the workforce is low due to chronic overcrowding and unsafe conditions, and workers cannot see a credible plan from government that will fix this.
“Health service workers and patients need a government that can tackle overcrowding in our hospitals. There are several steps that must be taken together to solve this crisis.
“The ingredients start in hospitals, in terms of bed, diagnostic, and surgical capacity, to see patients quicker.
“But the crisis cannot be solved in hospitals alone. We need to reduce the number of patients attending hospital through investment in primary care, out of hours GP, early intervention, and prevention, and decrease the time a patient spends in hospital through investment in home support, step-down, and community-based care as well as hospital capacity.
“All of this must be underpinned by a comprehensive strategic workforce plan, which is joined up across the health service and higher education institutes, to expand capacity and achieve safe staffing levels.
“The significant cost of living issues faced by healthcare workers, particularly young graduates, needs to be addressed.
“Together with Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing, Eoin Ó Broin, I have engaged with nurses and the INMO and they have told us how difficult it is for young nurses to get secure and affordable accommodation.
“The same is true for other healthcare workers. The government must ratchet up affordable homes to rent and buy, and remove cost of living barriers for young nurses and health and social care professionals.
“The government must act on calls from nurses and midwives for safe staffing levels and get ahead of these crises to deliver the change that is needed.”