Thursday 14 November 2019

Overcrowding crisis sparks war of words between former and current health ministers

Health Minister Leo Varadkar
Health Minister Leo Varadkar

Niall O'Connor

A war of words has broken out between Health Minister Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin over the overcrowding crisis in hospitals.

Mr Martin today launched a stinging attack on Mr Varadkar's performance, claiming that the Fine Gael TD is desperate to "get out of health" after the general election.

Speaking at a party event in Dublin, the Fianna Fáil leader claimed that Mr Varadkar sought his advice about issues in the health system at an event in Glenties, Donegal last July.

And Mr Martin said he will "take Leo on anytime in terms of my record" in the department of health.

The Fianna Fáil leader - who is a former minister for health - has continuously become defensive in recent days when his own record in the Department of Health is highlighted by government TDs.

"In terms of my term in health, I'd say to Leo he's only been in health a wet week, come back to me in 12 months and we will compare notes," he said today.

"I think people on trolleys, in 2015, I don't think will be impressed by a Health minister that has to go back to 2001 to try and justify the kind of problems they have currently in the health service," he added.

Responding to the comments, Mr Varadkar strongly rejected suggestions that he is looking leave his post.

He said that he sought the advice of several former health ministers, including Mary Harney, James Reilly, Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin.

The Dublin West TD said the issues in the health service will require more than just 12 months to rectify and he serves in his current portfolio at the discretion of Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

"I serve at the discretion of the people of Dublin West and in Health at the discretion of the Taoiseach but it's going to take more than a year to turn the ship of health around so I'd prefer to have a couple of years if possible," Mr Varadkar told

Addressing the trolley crisis last night during a Dail debate last night, Mr Varadkar said a two pronged solution is being pursued, encompassing measures at both a national and local level.

Mr Varadkar added that the latest Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO)  show that 359 patients are on on trolleys, which is a seven-year low.

Online Editors

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