Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has criticised the setting of a 320-patients-on-trolleys target in the HSE’s Urgent and Emergency Care Operational Plan, saying that this target is “unacceptably high” and is “normalising the trolley crisis”.
Teachta Cullinane said that continually raising the bar instead of hitting targets is an admission of failure by Government and the HSE, and that a zero-tolerance approach, which has worked in Kilkenny, Waterford, and other hospitals, is needed right across the State.
The Waterford TD said:
“It is unacceptable that a target of 320 patients on trolleys would be set in the HSE’s plan for urgent and emergency care. Raising the bar instead of hitting meaningful targets is a total admission of failure by the Government and the HSE.
“This was a crisis figure several years ago, when Fine Gael took office and pledged to end the trolley crisis. It was unacceptably high then and it is unacceptably high now. The level of ambition needed is totally lacking from this Government.
“This target will only serve to normalise the trolley crisis. It sends a message to hospitals that 320 patients on trolleys is acceptable. It is not acceptable.
“If an arbitrary figure had been used in Waterford, I have no doubt that we would still have a trolley crisis in UHW. Instead, management put in place a zero-tolerance approach to patients on trolleys and this has worked. We need to see that approach replicated across the State.
“I am under no illusion that this can be achieved everywhere overnight. It will take time. But it has to start with ambition. If the ambition is wrong from the start, if the targets are wrong, the health service will not overcome the trolley crisis.
“The Minister for Health must put in place a zero-tolerance approach. He must ensure that best practice is being applied at every hospital.
“He must put in place a rapid investment plan to build up the physical capacity in hospitals like University Hospital Limerick where there are clearly too few beds.
The Minister must also support hospitals to perform better by investing in primary care and general practice to take a higher volume of urgent care.”