Thursday, 21 May 2020
Covid-19 (Health): Statements
Marian Harkin (Sligo-Leitrim, Independent)
I thank the Minister for coming in to answer our questions. I was listening earlier when he spoke of the HSE plans for non-Covid treatment. He said such treatment had to be safe and clinically effective but did not say it had to be timely. The Minister also said there would be a plan within two weeks but unless intervention is timely, it is not effective. I am not being political about this. I was about to say it is only the Minister and I in the Chamber but there are still only a few of us here. I am really concerned that we are watching a slow car crash in front of our eyes. Many people are suffering unnecessarily and many will die because of but not of Covid.
While I am not putting the responsibility for that on the Minister's shoulders, one of his areas of responsibility is the contract with the private hospitals. I heard the Minister say he had an open mind on the contract and that he will look at it again. I ask him to do so because I have had so much correspondence about it. For example, a gynaecologist in a private hospital in my constituency contacted me. Many of her patients need life-saving, urgent interventions and she cannot perform any of them. I have also been contacted about the local podiatry service for diabetics. To paraphrase what I have been told, unless patients are in danger of needing amputation, they cannot have their toenails seen to. That is the bottom line. Those are the kinds of circumstances we need to act on speedily. I await the Minister's response. I have spoken to him about this before in this House and while I do not say we should cancel the contract, we should review it, change it and get it to work more efficiently.
We have a two-hour time limit here. If any of us spends more than two hours in the Chamber and it transpires that someone here has Covid, we have to self-isolate for 14 days. That is the recommendation that has been given. We are socially distanced here and we use hand sanitiser entering and leaving the Chamber. Can the Minister make the detail of the relevant risk assessment available to Members?