News & Media

Minister for Health needs to get to grips with non-Covid healthcare crisis

6 August 2020

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Health and Disability Services
AlanK

The Minister for Health needs to get to grips with the crisis in non-Covid healthcare according to Labour Leader and Health Spokesperson, Alan Kelly.

Deputy Kelly was speaking after a Department of Health briefing document releases under Freedom of Information revealed the true state of the health system post Covid including massive backlogs for basic treatment and diminished cancer services.

Deputy Kelly said:

“I have been raising this consistently for months and first warned of an apocalyptic surge in hospital waiting lists in April of this year. I have called repeatedly for the Minister to publish a roadmap on the safe reopening of our health services and week after week, I was told that it was an issue for the HSE and that plan would be published shortly, yet we didn’t see a reopening until nearly the end of July.

“The HSE spent €115 million a month renting private hospitals and much of that capacity went unused with these hospitals running at one third capacity while waiting lists surged.

“This report prepared for Minister Donnelly when he came into office lays bare the challenges of safely restarting non-Covid health services. Before he came into office the Minister described the amount of people on diagnostic waiting lists as ‘extremely worrying’. However, the situation is deteriorating significantly on his watch.

“Minister Donnelly needs to get to grips with the crisis in non-Covid healthcare, if there is a funding shortfall as the report indicates then there are questions for the Minister as to why he did not seek to have this addressed as part of the July stimulus.

“In relation to cancer screening, we don’t have to look back to far to know what happens when there is a major backlog in screening. The Minister needs to seek additional financial resources to get the throughput of cancer services back to where they need to be.

 “Unless we get our health services back up and running properly, there is a real concern that preventable non-Covid related deaths will outnumber Covid related deaths.

“Minister Donnelly needs to stop hiding in the Department and get a grip on the crisis in non-Covid healthcare. I warned the Government repeatedly as early as April that their persistent inaction around publishing the roadmap for the resumption of non-Covid healthcare would have dire consequences, the Minister needs to take urgent action now.