Thursday, 28 November 2019
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
The Tánaiste says that things are happening. What is happening is that the fire service is being called into emergency departments around the country. The Tánaiste and the Taoiseach trumpeted the new children's urgent care unit at Blanchardstown hospital. However, that was supposed to be open Monday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. but it is only opening Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. because it cannot be staffed. It has not been staffed properly because the mess the Government has presided over in regard to the national children's hospital project is impacting on staffing budgets across the health service. There are 117,000 children on inpatient and outpatient waiting lists and postponing elective surgery will add to those lists. Nothing is being done about the consultant contracts to address consultant vacancies. The Government is presiding over nursing vacancies. If those positions were filled, the waiting lists would be addressed more quickly and people would not be left waiting. There are 13 beds in Temple Street hospital's emergency department. Yesterday, 12 of those beds were taken by admitted patients because there was no space for them elsewhere in the hospital.
That is the reality to which the Tánaiste seemed blind and oblivious until one of his colleagues suddenly woke him up. Now he is professing concern. Concern is not good enough for somebody who is waiting three days for a bed. Concern is not good enough for somebody whose child is so sick that they have to leave the emergency department after waiting nine hours and still not getting treatment. That is good enough. The winter plan which the Government has championed is failing in its first two weeks. What will happen during the rest of the winter?