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Reilly hasn't visited 80pc of hospitals

HEALTH Minister James Reilly has visited just over one fifth of public hospitals since taking office, the Herald can reveal.

While the Minister is back on home soil following a €10,000 trip to China, figures released to the Herald show that he has not set foot in 38 of the country's public hospitals.

Mr Reilly has visited just 10 public hospitals since February.

And the Herald can reveal that he has failed to visit the worst offenders in terms of patients lying on trolleys.

Hospitals such as St Columcille's, St Vincent's, Beaumont and Tallaght are yet to see him.

Opposition TDs expressed dismay at our revelation -- and have called on Mr Reilly to "get his priorities straight".

Fianna Fail Seanad health spokesman Marc McSharry said that Mr Reilly is "backtracking" on his pre-election promises.

"Leading up to the election, the Minister was all talk about what he would do to sort out the health crisis -- this shows he's backtracking left and right.

"There's no doubt that the people in this country expect him to be out visiting hospitals.

"Instead of flying to China, why is he not walking the corridors of the likes of Sligo, Tallaght and other hospitals that are in dire need of attention?"

Information released to the Herald by the Department of Health reveals that the Minister has visited the Mater Hospital on three occasions, as well as Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, St James's Hospital and Clonakilty in Co Cork.

His spokesman emphasised how he made an "impromptu visit" to Galway University Hospital when in the area.

However, Labour TD for Dublin North East Tommy Broughan said he is "very disappointed" the Minister has not visited the likes Beaumont Hospital in North Dublin.

A Department of Health spokesperson told the Herald: "The Minister talks to management of all hospitals on a regular basis. He is completely in touch in relation to the performance of our hospitals. He established the special delivery unit earlier this year and appointed a top Northern Ireland expert Dr Martin Connor as his adviser on that unit."