March 21, 2023
Persistent and growing hospital overcrowding can be solved with political will and multi-annual capacity expansion – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has said that persistent and growing overcrowding in emergency departments is a result of the government’s failure to invest in capacity.

Teachta Cullinane was responding to the publication of the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation Trolley Watch figures for March 21st, which showed that 665 patients were waiting on a proper bed in hospitals this morning.

The Waterford TD said that the deepening trolley crisis can be solved with political will and a multi-annual capacity expansion plan.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“This morning, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation recorded 665 patients on trolleys.

“There has only been a single day so far this year where there were less than 400 patients waiting for a bed. 

“Extreme levels of overcrowding are being reported every month, every week, and every day at almost every hospital.

“The trolley crisis has spiralled into a constant threat to patient safety, and it is only getting worse. Government cannot hide behind winter surges when the problem is now year-round. 

“Government made a noteworthy investment in beds in 2021, but then they stopped. A single year was never going to cut it, and the health service is suffering the consequences of bad planning and a failure to sustain investment in capacity.

“Last week, the INMO announced that nurses working in the Intensive Care Unit at University Hospital Limerick will be voting on industrial action due to unsafe conditions in the hospital.

“Healthcare workers cannot see a way out of this crisis because there is no plan. The Minister has failed to grapple with this challenge.

“But this crisis can be solved with political will and sustained capacity expansion as part of a multi-annual plan.

“Government must urgently publish a multi-annual capacity expansion plan to deliver much needed hospital beds, additional diagnostic capacity, and expanded theatre capacity to equip hospitals to deal with the volume of care coming their way.

“This plan must also address community beds, such as intermediate care beds, and home support to deliver more care outside of hospitals and speed up discharge from hospitals.

“No improvement can be achieved without a paradigm shift in workforce planning. We need a radical increase in the number of healthcare workers we are training, and a serious change in approach to retention in the health service. Too many are leaving early in their career for opportunities abroad or in other sectors.

“Government has failed to act on each of these measures for far too long. The Minister for Health has no credibility until he produces a comprehensive multi-annual plan to expand capacity and tackle this crisis.”

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