Operating theatres still lying idle, warn doctors
One in five operating theatres are closed despite the thousands on surgical waiting lists, hospital consultants warned.
And some theatres and beds in Tullamore Hospital have never even been opened.
Martin Varley, Secretary General of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA), said surgeons and other speicalists would be willing to work outside their normal hours to do operations.
However, a number of factors including lack of theatre nurses, beds and intensive care facilities mean many theatres are lying idle.
"In hospitals with seven theatre, two could be closed."
The consultants' bodywhich was launching its pre-Budget submission and said if substantial more resources are not allocated to health spending for 2016, the trolley crisis the waiting list bottlenecks will escalate further.
Dr Gerard Crotty, IHCA President, said hospitals continue to struggle with a lack of specialists despite efforts to recruit them by hospitals which are still seeing just one or two or possible no applicants for the jobs.
The increased starting salaries agreed early this year are not proving enough incentive.
A vacancy for a gynaecologist in Galway attracted no applicant, he added.
It means that hospitals are heavily dependent on temporary doctors to maintain services.
He said the hospital service here has only one-third to a half of doctors in certain specialties at a time when the numbers of patients coming to hospital are increasing and the population is ageing.
"Make no mistake about it - Ireland's acute health services will not be capable of delivering high quality safe care to patients unless substantially increased resources are provided without further delay.
"In recent weeks, there were headlines when a number of 100-year-old patients spent over 24 hours on trolleys while awaiting admission for essential and urgent inpatient treatment.
"There are significantly more patients awaiting care today than this time last year. As we approach the 1916 Centenary, is this the best that we can do after one hundred years?"
The IHCA confirmed several hundred consultants are taking legal cases to pursue back money which they say they are owed for salaries due under a new contract but never paid in full.
The bill may run to more than €250m.