Thursday 1 September 2016

More hospital beds can slow down staff, claims minister Leo Varadkar

Further FG woe as Kenny fluffs lines at first election press conference as he 'couldn't see script'

Niamh Horan and Philip Ryan

Published 07/02/2016 | 02:30

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar

More beds and additional resources can lead to a slower work rate among hospital staff, Health Minister Leo Varadkar has claimed.

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In an interview with the Sunday Independent, Mr Varadkar, who confirmed that he would like to continue as Health Minister if re-elected to government, said more beds and resources can lead to less productivity.

"What can happen in some hospitals is sometimes, when they have more beds and more resources, that's what kind of slows it down."

When asked why, he replied: "Because they [hospital staff] don't feel as much under pressure.

"When a hospital is very crowded, there will be a real push to make sure people get their x-rays, get their tests and, you know, 'lets get them out in four days.'

"When a hospital isn't under as much pressure, you start to see things slowing down and it might take five, six, seven days to get the person discharged and that's [the] length of stay, so it's all these different factors come into play all the time."

The minister, who is currently canvassing in the Dublin West constituency, also explained why he turned down the offer by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) for him to work a 12-hour shift alongside them.

Mr Varadkar pointed out that the organisation had put the offer to him through the media.

"I was never actually formally asked. It was a challenge issued through the media," he said.

"I would have thought that- rather than demanding I do something through the media- they might have maybe written to me and asked me if I would like to do it."

Mr Varadkar also attacked Sinn Fein's "high-tax, job-killing policies", which he claimed would reverse the recovery.

He said anyone earning over €33,800 would be deemed a "higher earner" and be forced to pay a 50pc total tax rate if Gerry Adams's party was to take power.

The minister said Sinn Fein would cut tax relief on pension contributions, which will cost a nurse or guard on €40,000 around €800 a year.

He claimed that high earners would pay 62pc tax if Sinn Fein was in government and that this would "kill off" foreign direct investment.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced Fine Gael's plan to slash capital gains tax (CGT) for start-up companies to 10pc if it is returned to Government.

At an election event in micksgarage.com's headquarters in Park West, Dublin, Mr Kenny said his party would halve the current 20pc CGT rate on all gains up to €10m over the next five years.

"We have ambitious and credible plans to make Ireland an international start-up hub because start-ups are vital in a small open economy like ours," he said.

"Our small businesses and our young businesses are the heartbeat of the local and the national economy."

Speaking at the same event, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said: "Our plan will increase the numbers of start-ups by 25pc by 2020, or 3,000 more start-ups per year."

Fine Gael's election campaign had a bad start last week after Mr Kenny fluffed his line at the opening press conference and the first opinion poll showed Fine Gael's public support dropping.

Fine Gael sources claimed Mr Kenny's poor performance on the first day of the campaign was down to bad lighting in the Alexander Hotel in Dublin, which meant he could not read his script.

A senior Fine Gael strategist told the Sunday Independent the party will not change its campaign strategy despite criticisms over the strictly stage-managed nature of Mr Kenny's public appearances.

The Taoiseach has so far only appeared at carefully orchestrated events and has not been permitted by handlers to engage with members of the public.

However, a senior Fine Gael minister said Mr Kenny will meet more members of the public later in the campaign, adding: "The Taoiseach has never been afraid of going out and meeting people," the minister said.

Yesterday, Mr Kenny refused to comment when asked three times if he was concerned that Fine Gael's key election message is not reaching voters and if Ireland is ready for a political party styled on David Cameron's Conservative Party.

On each occasion he dodged the question and instead repeated slogans about "keeping the recovery going" and "making work pay".

Mr Kenny eventually said he believes that when the party carries its "message through the length and breadth of the country" people will see the "progress made and know the recovery is underway".

"The reason we are here is to explain why the recovery should continue what it means for individuals, what it means for communities and what it means for businesses.

"The people in Ireland are very well able to decide themselves and the decision they make on the February 26 will be the most critical they've made for 50 years," he added.

Fine Gael strategist insist they are not copying the Conservative Party's successful election campaign but rather its the Tories who have copied their job strategies over the last five years.

Sunday Independent

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