Thursday 17 January 2019

'Up to 400 people a year die from overcrowding', Micheál Martin tells Dáil

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Arthur Carron
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Arthur Carron
John Downing

John Downing

UP to 400 people die each year due to hospital emergency department overcrowding, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has told the Dáil.

Mr Martin – himself a former Health Minister – said the record levels of overcrowding at hospital emergency departments was “a damning indictment” of Irish society.

Mr Martin said over-crowding levels across Britain were deemed “shocking” yet they were far less than what was happening in Ireland. He said that a four-hour emergency hospital wait in England was deemed “shocking” – but it would be a big improvement on matters in Ireland.

"Taoiseach, three years ago, you as Minister as Health said you were sick to death of this problem and that you would solve it,” the Fianna Fáil leader said. He further accused the Government of being totally unprepared for this current winter crisis.

The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, agreed that hospital emergency department over-crowding was totally unacceptable.

“I do not want any patient to face the indignity or clinical risk that is associated with waiting on hospital trollies. Government is working to address the challenges we face in this area,” Mr Varadkar replied.

The Taoiseach said the Government was now working on plans to provide extra hospital beds.  But he said that changes in work practices were also required to reduce the numbers of people waiting on trolleys.

Mr Varadkar also said that two out of three people going to hospital emergency departments either got a bed within nine hours – or else were discharged and returned home.

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