Tuesday 25 October 2016

Taoiseach Enda Kenny accused of ‘crying crocodile tears’ over health crisis

Published 15/12/2015 | 15:49

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been accused of “crying crocodile tears for a long time” about the numbers of people languishing on trolleys in hospital emergency departments.

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Despite today’s strike by A&E nurses being averted Fianna Fáil has said that both the Taoiseach and Health Minister Leo Varadkar have not gotten to grips with the crisis.

The two-hour stoppage planned at seven hospitals was cancelled after the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation agreed to put a series of proposals to their members before taking an strike action.

It includes an additional two days of annual leave for emergency nurses in 2016 and 2017 in lieu of missed meal breaks.

Fianna Fáil’s health spokesman Billy Kelleher welcomed the last minute deal but said the threat of industrial action was “borne out of fear and frustration” .

“Fear for patient safety and dignity of patients that attend our emergency departments, and frustration that this government ahs not got to grips with the challenges being faced everyday in our emergency departments,” he said.

Mr Kelleher said the Taoiseach had repeated cried “crocodile tears” in the Dáil and the Mr Varadkar had lowered his ambitions.

“We know there is no quick fix but they’ve been at it five years now, promising that the emergency departments and overcrowding would be addressed,” he said.

“When you look at the HSE Service Plan that that was announced last year and the new one the Minister has decided to drop his ambitious plans for the health service and drop his ambition in terms of reducing waiting lists.

“He saying that we are going to find it acceptable that people are going to be waiting 15 months for procedures. Previously that target was eight months,” Mr Kelleher said.

“So we have a minister who is lacking ambition in terms of the health services, maybe he has ambitions elsewhere,” he added, alluding to speculation that Mr Varadkar would like to be leader of the Fine Gael party.

He urged the Government to do more to attract nurses to the health service and retain them.

“The agreement may go some way to addressing some of the issues that the INMO had with regard to retention and recruitment but there is a larger issue at play here.

“We need to ensure that we have capacity in our emergency departments, enough consultants, nurses, emergency medicine staff that we deal with what is happening in our emergency departments day in and day out,” Mr Kelleher said.

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