Dáil debates

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions


12:30 pm

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Deputy. As I mentioned in my earlier reply, a winter plan is being developed. There will be a bespoke winter plan for Sligo, taking into account not only the hospital but also the community services in the wider area. Diagnostics can help quite soon. I know from bitter experience, both as a doctor and Minister for Health, that patients very often must wait a long time in hospitals, particularly over weekends, to get the scans or tests they need. Then they must wait for a senior decision-maker to decide whether they need to stay or can go home. Just having more diagnostics, particularly in the evenings and at weekends, and having senior decision-makers on site, can speed up services. Just reducing the average length of stay by half a day can be as good as providing dozens or hundreds of additional beds across the health service. You need to do all of these things to reduce the average length of stay, and also provide additional bed and staff capacity.

As the Deputy mentioned, there are plans for a new four-storey block for the hospital. That will include 42 new beds, as well as additional staffing for critical care. That is needed as soon as possible. The Minister of State, Deputy Feighan, is working very hard on this and I know Deputy Harkin is too. We need to get it under way as soon as possible but also to make the short-term changes.


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