November 14, 2019
Government’s reckless management of health services puts HSE winter plan into question – Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin Dáil Deputy Leader Pearse Doherty TD has said that the Government’s reckless management of the health service puts the HSE winter plan into question, and that the block on additional recruitment needs to be lifted to allow for frontline staff, nurses and doctors to enter the service.

Speaking to the Tánaiste at Leaders’ Questions today, Teachta Doherty said;

“We are at a point now where every day is Winter in our hospitals. Overcrowding, patients on trolleys and undervalued staff trying their best on the front line.

“That is the state of our health service. Patients and staff are now set to face a difficult winter in already difficult circumstances.

“I have serious doubts that this Winter Plan will be able to tackle the issues that blight our health service.

“The General Secretary of the INMO said yesterday it will be impossible to staff more in the middle of a recruitment freeze this Government brought in in May.

“Nurses are regularly reporting that inadequate staffing levels are dangerous.

 “You cannot staff additional beds without additional staff. The recruitment freeze is crippling emergency departments, and patients are suffering from the consequences.

“The stupidity of this recruitment freeze is laid bare in Ballinasloe and Portumna in Galway; where public health services once had six nurses, they now have four vacancies which they cannot fill because of the recruitment freeze.

“This is only a snapshot of the Government’s reckless management of health services.

“The latest HSE figures show there are 308 fewer staff nurses and 37 fewer public health nurses now compared to last year. In August, 1,300 nursing and midwifery posts were vacant and unfilled.

“Beside inadequate staffing levels, we have over 100,000 patients without hospital beds this year.

“The human impact of this was laid bare last week after Evelyn Crowley tragically died in the corridors of Cork University Hospital last week.

“In my own constituency of Donegal, over 4 and a half thousand patients have languished on trolleys this year in Letterkenny University Hospital.

“Tánaiste, I want to know how you plan to deliver this Winter Plan when nurses and doctors are telling us that they are struggling to deliver care for patients and communities as it is?

“The recruitment freeze of frontline staff, nurses and doctors needs to be urgently lifted if we are to make any headway ahead of the coming winter.”

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