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Statement by the Irish Hospital Consultants Association re Taoiseach's comments

[ Thursday, 8th November 2018 ]

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has rejected the Taoiseach’s claims that the solution to the trolley crisis is for hospital staff to cancel their annual leave over the Christmas period.

Dr Donal O’Hanlon, President of the IHCA, said: “I am extremely disappointed with the Taoiseach’s comments which have attempted to trivialise the very serious issue of the hospital bed shortage. Despite the comments, there is absolutely no doubt that the most significant issue in the health service is the lack of capacity in our public hospitals. The trolley crisis is not just over the Christmas period. The lack of capital investment in our public hospitals has resulted in a year-round crisis for hospitals which are struggling without the means to provide a proper standard of care to their patients.

“The required expansion in acute hospital bed capacity was acknowledged in the Capacity Review and the subsequent National Development Plan provides funding for an additional 2,600 hospital beds. However, the additional beds have not materialised. There is a complete lack of urgency in putting in place additional hospital beds even though there is a record number of patients being treated on trolleys year-round and around 20% of the population on waiting lists for acute hospital and other care.”

“As Tony O’Brien acknowledged in last Sunday’s Sunday Business Post, and as the Association has been highlighting for years, the single biggest issue affecting public hospitals is the recruitment and retention of consultants. He also confirmed that the decision by the Government to discriminate against new entrant consultants is having a devastating impact on the health service and patients. Despite the promise in 2007 by the Taoiseach’s predecessor and colleague, Enda Kenny TD, to “end the scandal of patients on trolleys, there are now twice as many patients on trolleys today as there was when he made that commitment.

“We have hundreds of thousands of patients who are being treated on trolleys and are on waiting lists because we don’t have enough hospital beds and we have over 500 permanent hospital consultant posts which are unfilled. The ongoing trolley crisis will not be solved by cancelling leave at Christmas time,” concluded Dr O’Hanlon.

ENDS

For further information contact:

James Dunny, FleishmanHillard, 086 388 3903

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