Monday 19 August 2019

'You have no plan and you have no clue' - Heated scenes between Tanaiste and Mary Lou McDonald in Dail

Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

TÁNAISTE Joan Burton has been accused of having “some cheek” after calling on hospital management and nurses to engage in constructive dialogue to prevent industrial action.

During heated scenes in the Dáil, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said that nurses were “stressed out” managing the “utter chaos” in the health system.

She noted that 92pc of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation's members have voted in favour of strike action month due to overcrowding in emergency departments.

“Leo Varadkar is presiding over a disaster that is putting the safety and, God forbid, the lives of patients at risk,” Ms McDonald said.

“The crisis in our health service is getting worse. This is not a dispute about pay, it’s a dispute about patient safety.

“Nursing staffing levels have been decimated on your watch,” she said.

However, Ms Burton said she wanted all sides to engage with the State’s industrial relations machinery.

Within the ED departments it does require widespread and construction positive action from the hospital managers, consultants and nurses,” the Labour Party leader said.

Ms McDonald replied that the Tánaiste have the gall of the highest order to appeal to these people to be constructive”.

“They are managing day on day the chaos your Government have inflicted on hospitals,” she said.

The Leaders’ Questions debate descended into a shouting match as the Ms Burton said a taskforce set up by Health Minister Leo Varadkar which the HSE and nursing union sit on was making progress.

She also said that he urgent assessment units were one solution that hospitals should be looking at.

And she said that there are 700 more nurses working in public hospitals than there were a year ago.

“We have some of the best staff working in our hospitals in the world. You hardly want to see nurses going on strike,” Ms Burton said.

“As recently as a couple of days ago we had a report from the OECD that indicated we have one of the highest ratios of nursing employment in all of the OCED countries.”

Ms McDonald said there are 4,500 less nurses than five years ago and the moratorium on recruitment “has absolutely buckled our hospitals”.

She also referred to the Government’s decision to drop its plans for Universal Health Insurance, saying: “Your Teflon minister for health Leo Varadkar has abandoned your big idea. You have no plan and you have no clue.”

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