March 31, 2023
Significant and sustained intervention needed to tackle severe overcrowding recorded by INMO – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has called on the Minister for Health to deliver and sustain a significant investment in capacity in the health service on a multi-annual basis to tackle severe and record-breaking levels of overcrowding.

Teachta Cullinane was responding to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s Trolley Watch figures for March, which indicate a severe and sustained upward trend in hospital overcrowding over the last five years. The INMO recorded more than 69,000 patients without a bed in the period covered by the failed Winter Plan.

The TD for Waterford said that HSE organisational failures and a lack of funding certainty had limited the HSE’s ability to respond to capacity challenges, and called on the Minister to implement a multi-annual workforce and capacity expansion plan.

Teachta Cullinane said:

“Extreme levels of overcrowding are being reported every month, every week, and every day at almost every hospital. The INMO has recorded yet-another record-breaking month, which is also seen in the HSE’s own declining performance statistics. 

“The trolley scandal has spiralled into a constant threat to patient safety, and it is only getting worse. ESRI researchers have estimated a bed deficit of 1,000 inpatient beds by the end of this year.

“Government announced a significant investment in beds in October 2020, but then they stopped, and we will still be waiting for many of those beds until next year. The HSE has not delivered physical capacity expansions at pace. The Health service is suffering the consequences of bad planning, a failure to sustain investment in capacity, and a lack of funding certainty.

“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 Sláintecare reforms and community capacity, 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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