Wednesday 26 October 2016

Crisis 'worst ever' as trolley numbers rise for the 15th-month

Beaumont A&E at the start of the year
Beaumont A&E at the start of the year

EMERGENCY Department nurses will hold a crisis meeting this afternoon with Health Minister Leo Varadkar as the trolley situation reaches its "worst ever" level.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said that 71,486 admitted patients spent time on trolleys in the first nine months of this year.

This number represents a 28pc increase compared to the same period last year, when the figure stood at 55,928.

In September of this year alone there were 7,630 patients on trolleys, which represented a 17pc increase on the same time last year.

INMO General Secretary Liam Doran said that September was the 15th consecutive month in which there was an increase in the number of people waiting on trolleys.

"Once again, these latest figures confirm that overcrowding continues to increase and all measures taken to date, however welcome, have failed to address the critical issues of bed capacity, staffing and enhanced community supports," he said.

"At this stage, our members are tired of promises that the situation will improve when it is actually getting worse.

"Therefore, our focus, at this meeting, will be upon protecting standards for patients and ensuring a safe working environment for our members.

Mr Doran also said how a "massive effort is needed" to avoid what could be the worst winter season in years, while adding that he was "fearful" of the worsening situation.

The INMO said they hoped that Minister Varadkar's attendance at this afternoon's meeting would signal that progress could be made in relation to the ongoing crisis.

"In fairness, we invited him to come along and he is willing to hear from the people who matter," Mr Doran said.

"I hope he does what our representatives feel has to happen. We welcome the opening of 300 extra beds, but we need the staff to safely manage the extra services.

"It needs to be heard what is required to recruit and retain resources, and there are issues with people (staff) leaving Emergency Departments. We have recruitment going on but we also have a loss going on and we need the whole hospital to realise that we are in a crisis," he told RTE Radio.

It previously came to light that the Health Minister stated that "heads will roll" over the worsening trolley crisis.

Mr Varadkar expressed deep concern about trolley numbers as winter approaches, saying that he has "no reason to believe it won't be worse than last year".

Mr Varadkar's email to health officials was raised during 'Leader's Questions' by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin.

Mr Martin accused Mr Varadkar of engaging in "appalling cynicism" and alleged that the email was leaked to the media.

In response, the Taoiseach said it is incumbent on ministers to state when they are "not happy about how things are being run" within their departments.

"What I see here is for the first time a Minister for Health saying we've got to have accountability for the taxpayer," Mr Kenny told the Dail.

"Minister Varadkar is quite entitled to say I'm not a happy minister."

Mr Kenny also launched a staunch attack on Mr Martin and Fianna Fail.

He said Mr Martin is a "champion of false anger" and that his party has failed to put together a credible proposal in four-and-a-half years, bar a few exceptions.

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