Saturday 20 July 2019

Harris defends his invisibility as the trolley surge worsens

Meetings: Simon Harris. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Meetings: Simon Harris. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Niall O'Connor

Health Minister Simon Harris has defended his handling of this year's trolley crisis.

As record numbers of patients languished on trolleys in the country's hospitals, Mr Harris last night insisted he was more focused on solutions than photo opportunities showing he was at work.

The Wicklow TD spent yesterday locked in talks with senior HSE bosses, including Director General Tony O'Brien.

Prior to the expected outbreak of the flu virus, Mr Harris held a meeting with HSE and department officials about how to prepare.

Talks continued over the new year - with Mr Harris having direct contact with Mr O'Brien.

He was also in touch yesterday with the HSE head of operations, and the special delivery unit.

Sources close to Mr Harris say he has been getting up at 6.30am to check on the arrival of the first trolley figures at 7am.

However, the minister is seen politically to be somewhat overwhelmed by the latest flu outbreak.

Today, Mr Harris will hold talks with the heads of the hospital groups across the country.

But he has taken the decision to hold teleconferences with some hospital group chiefs from rural parts so that they are not brought away from the frontline of their respective facilities.

Irish Independent

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