Wednesday 19 September 2018

Already dire situation may get worse

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The worst overcrowding may be yet to come in hospital A&Es. It is unprecedented to reach March and see the kind of battlefield scenes witnessed in hospitals yesterday as 714 patients waited for a bed on trolleys.

Speaking during his visit to the United States, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he could not fully explain the deterioration in the last three months, given that hospitals were provided with extra beds.

"Nearly 200 beds and additional resources, too. In part I think it is because of a very long flu season, but that's not an excuse and that's not acceptable," he said.

That is little comfort to the very ill patients who must endure the dangerous conditions.

And it is also an indictment of this Government and the previous administration in which Mr Varadkar was health minister.

This surge in emergency patients, spurred by a range of pressures including the ageing population, was well flagged during his time.

There was countless diagnosis and findings of the obvious. More beds and staff are at the core as well as an overhaul in work practices to allow for services such as more access to diagnostics.

Unfortunately, there has been a failure to sufficiently plan ahead for the inevitable surge.

Every year we are made the same promises around the autumn, only to find corridors and wards overflowing again during the worst winter months.

Even if the health service is not expected to fully keep pace with demand it should surely not have reached the level of chaos and trolley gridlock which unfortunately is now the new norm.

Again, waiting list patients, many of them very ill and in need of surgery are the hidden victims as planned surgery is having to be cancelled yet again.

Unfortunately, the next stark figures we will see will be yet another spike in waiting lists as this grim saga shows no end.

Irish Independent

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