Seanad debates

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016: Second Stage


10:30 am

Photo of Trevor Ó ClochartaighTrevor Ó Clochartaigh (Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

Cuirim fáilte roimh an Aire Stáit. Ós rud é nach dóigh liom go bhfaca mé í ón uair gur ceapadh í mar Aire Stáit, ba mhaith liom comhghairdeas a ghabháil léi. Cuireann mé féin agus Sinn Féin fáilte roimh an mBille seo, go háirithe na forálacha a bhaineann le pacáistiú tobac. Cé go bhfuil an reachtaíocht seo le moladh as an méid a bhfuil ann, léiríonn sí an méid atá fós le déanamh sa chóras sláinte. While this is welcome legislation, it is clear more legislation is required to tackle the worst of our health problems. I note there are six distinct parts of this Bill, many of which are designed to close off loopholes or remedy anomalies in the system at present. Unfortunately, there are many other anomalies in the working out of health services, which need to be addressed. Perhaps it is something that will be taken on board through the next Stages of the Bill.

One such anomaly is the issue in the west where people presenting with acute alcoholism are not entitled to care based on that alone. GPs are no longer able to refer patients with an alcohol addiction to the HSE services unless they have been diagnosed with a co-morbid mental health illness. This meant that over Christmas, people were being turned away from the present services, which is a totally unsatisfactory situation. This was communicated before Christmas in a HSE west e-mail to the service providers. Galway has a population of 75,000 people but only one full-time and one part-time counsellor for adult problem drinkers. Waterford, in comparison, has a population of 47,000 but five counsellors for drinkers, as well as one outreach worker and a number of other personnel.

Turning to the hospital situation, a sick relative of Sinn Féin Councillor Gabriel Cronnelly was admitted to University Hospital Galway, UHG, over the weekend. He was admitted on Friday evening with an illness and was not placed in a bed until 9.30 p.m. on Saturday evening. At the same time, there were 43 people on trolleys in the same hospital. I take on board what has been said about health awareness and making people aware of the situation but the fact of the matter is the primary health care services are in dire need of more resources in areas like Connemara. Those primary health care centres need to be fully staffed and rolled out properly. Cuts are being experienced to basic services such as that of the physiotherapist in Connemara, who has not been replaced. People are being brought into the acute system because of issues in the primary care system.

I attended the hospital in Galway recently for a minor situation and the staff there were absolutely brilliant. Without the professionalism and compassion of the hospital staff who do their utmost to put patients on trolleys at ease as best they can, there would be a revolution. As of this morning, there are 35 people on trolleys in the same hospital. Doctors and nurses are not only holding the health service together, they are effectively ameliorating the worst effects of Government neglect through their care. This is something we need to come back to. I call on the Minister of State to implore the senior Minister to have a look at the hospital situation in Galway. I have stated a feasibility study is needed into the need for a new hospital-----


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