Seanad debates

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Catherine ArdaghCatherine Ardagh (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

Yesterday, I rose to discuss the Government's abysmal record on housing and the unprecedented numbers of people accessing homeless accommodation. Today, I would like to discuss the Government's record and handling of the health service. Yesterday, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, INMO, recorded 679 patients on trolleys across the country. This is the second highest figure ever recorded and is the highest one recorded in 2019. It was unusual and horrific that the Government did not declare this an emergency. This is occurring at a time of the year when it is still relatively warm and before we hit severe winter conditions, yet we are seeing these figures in accident and emergency departments in hospitals across the country.

We also know the weather affects homeless figures and those accessing emergency homeless accommodation. What exactly are the Government's plans for the health service and the provision of emergency accommodation for those who will be seeking to access it when the weather deteriorates, which we expect it will because it does every year? We do not know what will happen at the moment. These figures will just climb without any plan in place and it is very serious, particularly when INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, has said that members of her organisation are working in inhumane conditions with staff shortages. Those who will suffer are the patients and it is putting patient safety at risk.

On a positive note, I welcome the Minister's suggestion of putting a levy on coffee cups but if there is going to be a public consultation, perhaps the terms of reference should be widened to consider putting a levy on plastic packaging on vegetables and things like that in supermarkets.The suggestion is to be welcomed, though. Fianna Fáil was very successful in bringing in the plastic bag levy, so it is great that Fine Gael is following suit.


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