October 26, 2023
UHL trolley crisis hits new record as government doubles down on shameful decision to deliberately underfund health service – Senator Paul Gavan

Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has called out Minister Stephen Donnelly for once again failing to attend a debate on the ongoing trolley crisis at University Hospital Limerick.

Senator Gavan said:

“In the same week that the government doubled down on its decision to shamefully and deliberately underfund our health service, a new record was set in University Hospital Limerick with 130 patients on trolleys.

“Yet as I raised the issue of UHL in the Seanad, the Minister for Health didn’t attend. This is the second time this year I have raised UHL as a commencement matter in the Seanad, and on both occasions, the Minister for Health has failed to show up.

“My colleague, Deputy Maurice Quinlivan, has had the same experience twice in a row where the Minister did not show to address a topical issue regarding the hospital.

“The Minister is in hiding when it comes to the trolley crisis in UHL.

“Anyone who saw the video of the emergency department corridors in UHL on Monday [circulated by the Sunday World] would have thought it was a scene from a disaster movie.

“But it is not a movie. It is real people, real suffering, and real lives at risk.

“A recent study in the UK shows that, for every 82 admitted patients whose time to in-patient bed transfer is delayed beyond six to eight hours from time of arrival at the ED, there is one extra death. That is an extremely worrying statistic when you look at the consistently high trolley numbers at UHL.

“What we needed to hear this week was a plan as we head into the winter when further pressures are put on hospitals.

“Instead, we have a minister in hiding and a government that has refused to reverse their deliberate underfunding of health services in Budget 2024.

“The people of Limerick will not forget this failure. UHL nurses, doctors, and staff are burnt out and frustrated. They are concerned about patient safety but also about their own safety.

“All of this will be compounded by the HSE’s recruitment freeze. Healthcare Assistants who are leaving, some of whom have told me they are leaving because of the conditions they are working in, will not be replaced.

“Furthermore, we have just been told that the 96 beds expected to be opened soon will now not be completed until 2025.

“This government has thrown in the towel on health, thrown in the towel on patients, and thrown in the towel on healthcare workers to the extent that the Minister will not even attend debates on the issue.”

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