Labour Party Health spokesperson, Alan Kelly, has said Simon Harris needs to take the prediction by the IMO that trolley numbers will exceed 1,000 this winter seriously.
Deputy Kelly said:
“The warnings by the Irish Medical Organisation are very stark as we are set to enter into another winter of chaos in our hospitals.
“The IMO are right to be concerned as as of late last week, the Government were not able to confirm when the HSE would launch the 2018-2019 Winter Initiative.
“In order for this not to be a self-fulfilling prophecy by the IMO, the Government need to take on the views of those working on the frontline in our hospitals.
“At this stage we are all able to predict the disaster that will ensue on hospital wards across the country due to lack of staff and beds, which will inevitably be blamed on a flu outbreak.
“We know from the outrageous trolleywatch numbers from every month this year, that capacity in our hospitals is not just a seasonal problem.
“The perpetual crisis has worsened, and despite talking a good game, Minister Harris has no real solutions planned or ready to roll out.
“Our health system requires more acute hospital beds, and more frontline staff, and the Minister should outline how he will deliver an increase in capacity. There also needs to be a rapid transfer of funding to primary care centres, community intervention teams and increased provision of home care packages.
“A simple measure the Minister could take is to access immediately the spare capacity that exists in the A&E departments in private hospital facilities across the country.
“By facing up to this crisis, and acknowledging the national emergency that exists, the Minister could take extraordinary measures to open beds, and access private healthcare facilities.