Thursday, 28 November 2019
Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation
Pearse Doherty (Donegal, Sinn Fein)
We are not even into December yet and there are unbearable pressures on our hospitals. Like many, I read the account of the Tánaiste's parliamentary colleague who was embarrassed at the overcrowding in the emergency department in Crumlin. The question that many of us are asking is what planet has the Government been living on for the past number of years. This has been the lived experience of thousands of patients throughout our health system, not this week, last week or last month, but for many years under the Government. Monday saw the highest ever recorded number of patients without a bed in any Irish hospital, which stood at 85 in University Hospital Limerick. In my county of Donegal, Letterkenny University Hospital has seen 224 patients without a bed since Monday of this week. As of this morning, there were 31 patients awaiting beds.
There are many issues that the Government is not addressing, including capacity and closed beds, but I will focus on the recruitment freeze. The Tánaiste may dispute the fact that there is a freeze, but the HSE has acknowledged that "non-critical replacement posts will be paused". Whether one calls it a pause or a freeze, it is having a serious impact on staffing our hospitals and providing the necessary capacity to ensure that patients are admitted to hospitals. Will the Tánaiste give a commitment to the patients who are lying on trolleys or to the thousands of others who had to experience this indignity that the HSE recruitment freeze will be lifted right now?