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Kelly calls for action on hospital overcrowding

12 March 2018

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Spokesperson on Health

Labour spokesperson on Health, Alan Kelly TD, has called for the Minister for Health to outline what action is being taken to address the overcrowding crisis in Irish hospitals.

It comes as new figures from the INMO show overcrowding levels have reached a record high, with 714 people waiting on trolleys in hospitals around the country.

Deputy Kelly said:

“I am extremely concerned, and quite frankly alarmed, by comments made by the general secretary of the INMO on the News at One this afternoon, who described conditions in our public hospitals right now as ‘chaotic’ and ‘unsafe’ as a result of overcrowding levels.

“With the advice to patients last week not to travel to hospitals for non-essential treatment due to the weather conditions from Storm Emma, it was entirely inevitable that there would be a backlog of patients seeking treatment this week, as well as the usual numbers vising Emergency Departments.

“With 714 people waiting on trolleys in hospitals around the country as we speak, questions now have to be asked about the level of planning for increased volumes post-storm.

“The cross-party Sláintecare report published last May clearly stated that addressing ED overcrowding required a system wide response, including the need to enhance primary and social care services to provide patient centred care, which would reduce the over-reliance on our public hospitals.

“We need increased investment in our hospitals to attract more doctors and nurses, as well as giving GPS direct access to diagnostics.

“The long-awaited Bed Capacity Review published in January acknowledged that the system was already operating at above capacity in most areas.

“It also found that implementing Sláintecare reforms would greatly reduce the number of extra beds needed over the next decade, from around 9,000 to 2,600.

“However in the immediate term we simply have to increase bed capacity in public hospitals so that people are not lying for hours on end on trollies waiting to be seen to and amping up the pressure on already stretched hospital staff, as is currently the case.

“All options should be explored by the Minister to deal with this crisis and we need to know what is being done right now to get people off trollies as a matter of urgency.”