Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has criticised the failure of Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to tackle the crisis in emergency departments across the state.
Teachta Cullinane said that the Minister is in “constant crisis management mode” and does not have a long-term plan to fix the health service.
The TD for Waterford said that the Minister’s failure to make progress on the issue over the last two and a half years is laid bare in this morning’s HIQA Overview Report of Monitoring against National Standards in Emergency Departments.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“This morning’s overview report on HIQA’s monitoring of Emergency Departments in 2022 makes for stark reading.
“It is clear from the report that the Minister for Health has made little progress over the last two and a half years. His failures are laid bare in the HIQA report.
“The emergency department crisis is worse now than before this Government took office, and they can no longer hide behind the pandemic.
“The health service is experiencing record overcrowding, with more patients admitted without a bed in November this year than in any previous year.
“Emergency Departments are now under ‘unprecedented strain’ according to the regulator, backing up the fears previously expressed by the INMO that our hospitals face a nightmare winter.
“It is a huge concern that routine triaging – where a decision is made on whether a patient should attend the emergency department or be sent to another unit – is taking over an hour in many instances, and took over three hours in Mayo in at least one instance. This should be performed within 15 minutes.
“This inefficiency – which is down to a combination of understaffing and ineffective resource management – is a significant contributor to overcrowding.
“Some hospitals, like St Luke’s in Kilkenny and Waterford University Hospital, have shown how effective quick triaging can be at clearing waiting rooms.
“But the failures of Government in wider health policy, such as the collapse of out-of-hours GP care, long waiting lists for home care, and underutilisation of community recovery beds, are resulting in more patients attending hospital and in many patients remaining in hospital far longer than they need to.
“Not only is the Government failing to properly manage resources within hospitals, they are failing to tackle the problems in primary and community care which are causing record attendances and driving delayed discharges because they have not invested in alternatives to hospital care.
“The Minister is in constant crisis management mode and does not have a long-term plan to fix the health service.”