Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has criticised the Minister for Health for not resolving ongoing pay disputes or delivering on promises made on capacity. He also criticised the government for moving beyond the public health advice in early December.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“In reality, the government wasted the summer months.
“The Minister for Health failed to put adequate testing and bed capacity in place.
“I published a plan in August which proposed rapid build modular units to deliver more beds and ICU capacity.
“I also called on the Minister to deal with the pay issues which are a barrier to hiring consultants.
“The Minister could have ended the two-tier pay system, and could also have paid student nurses and midwives.
“The Minister’s lack of action is one of the reasons why staff in hospitals are at breaking point.
“Frontline healthcare workers are overworked, exhausted and anxious about the period ahead.
“From my engagement with health unions, I know that healthcare workers are burnt out and feel let down.
“They know the worst is coming and have had no break for more than a year now.
“They have had no time for rest and there will be no let up even after the pandemic until the Minister’s promises on staff and capacity are delivered on.
“I hope the government have learned from the experience of the last few weeks – it is never good to push back, undermine or move ahead public health advice.
“The consequences are real – rising hospitalisations, an increasing number of healthcare staff out sick with Covid-19 and a real crisis in our hospitals.
“We always knew this could get away from us if we did not get it right.”