Seanad debates

Tuesday, 5 March 2024

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


1:00 pm

Photo of Timmy DooleyTimmy Dooley (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I join with Senator Warfield in expressing my dissatisfaction at the failure of many Departments to appoint people to boards. We are all talking about corporate governance and ensuring that issues such as those that happened in RTÉ never happen again. The Shannon Foynes Port Company has been without a chair for several months. There are other institutions in a similar position. I ask the Leader to ask the Departments in question for a list of the bodies under their remit that have for far longer than appropriate been awaiting appointments to their board. Shannon Foynes Port Company is one such body to which a chair has not been appointed. That is an important decision.

The main point I wish to raise is to support colleagues who have called for a significant investigation into the operation of the acute hospital in Limerick. Notwithstanding what the Minister has done since coming into office, in increasing funding, bed capacity and staffing, the crisis continues. In fact, it has worsened.I recall a time in the other House when the Minister of the day would be pilloried for having 35 people on trolleys. We now have 135 and it is rising. I do not think it is all political or all about money. I think there is something in the culture in the hospital that sees the situation worsen and deteriorate, which is having an enormous impact on patients and their families at a time when there has been an unprecedented level of investment. I know more is needed. This winter, it is worth noting that the trolley crisis, which we talk about every year, has not really been an issue in any other hospital to the extent that it has been in Limerick. Something is working everywhere else but the problem seems to continue to deteriorate, notwithstanding the significant investment. I think the only option is an entirely independent investigation into the operation of the hospital. Let it be direct and frank. Let it set out an identification of what the problems are. If there is a political dimension to it, let us stand and accept that. If there are other issues with culture, governance and certain staffing across the hospital, those need to be targeted too. I would welcome a debate with the Minister at the earliest opportunity in order that we can thrash out the framework, terms of reference and independent structure of that investigation.


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