3 January 2018
By Elaine Murphy
Solidarity TD Mick Barry this morning said that the hospital overcrowding crisis shows the need for a National Health Service in Ireland.
Deputy Barry said that 33% of patients reporting to hospitals in Ireland are either not admitted or discharged within 6 hours whereas with the NHS system in Scotland a mere 6% are not admitted or discharged within the lesser timeframe of 4 hours.
He said that an Irish NHS would reverse the cuts to 1,400 acute hospital inpatient beds made over the last 10 years; resolve staff shortages by increasing pay rates and reduce the flow to hospitals by investing seriously in primary care including GP resources, home help services and public health nurses.
Deputy Barry slammed the “Punch and Judy show” being played out between Fine Gael Health Minister Simon Harris and Fianna Fáil Health spokesperson Billy Kelleher on these issues.
He said: “The reality is that both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have to share political responsibility for the crisis we have with hospital overcrowding.
“The cuts that have crippled our health service were first introduced by Fianna Fáil, who are now propping up a Fine Gael-led Government who are failing to reverse them. What is clearly needed now is an Irish NHS and both parties are opposed to putting such a system in place.”
Deputy Barry concluded by noting that the flu season runs for another 6-8 weeks and the flu epidemic is not expected to peak until late January.
He said that the trolley numbers are already at an all-time high and that although there is an element of deja vu and public weariness, further rises in January might yet spark a strong public reaction and a political crisis on the issue.
Deputy Barry is a former member of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare who dissented from that committee’s final report.