FG/FF fiddle while Rome burns – trolley crisis worsens

Socialist Worker

FG/FF fiddle while Rome burns – trolley crisis worsens

Our hospitals are paying the price for the FG and FF post-election power plays. While Enda and Martin twiddle their thumbs 50 days after the election overcrowding in our hospitals is at crisis point. It is not an ‘issue’ to be side-lined until a new government can be formed nor a ‘problem’ for which some time can be scheduled to resolve later in the year. Hospital overcrowding needs to be addressed right NOW.

Hospitals are short beds and severely short nurses. The nurses, midwives and front-line staff working in our hospitals have been pushed past breaking-point. Their hard-work and dedication is not enough – they need more staff, more resources, more space, more beds. Wards are operating at full emergency capacity, trolleys are lined up in corridors and in emergency departments sick people sit and wait to be seen, then wait to be admitted, then wait to be treated, then wait for a bed.

While Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael negotiate they continually tell us we need a stable government to deal with the many issues – not to mention full-blown crises – we must confront. Yet it is these same parties who are the architects of our shambolic health service. The current crisis is not a new development; Hospitals were overcrowded in 2008 and the devastating cuts since have accelerated and exacerbated the crisis but they did not lay its foundations. Overcrowding has doubled since then with March 2016 the second worst month on record; 9381 people lay on hospital trolleys. Every day while Enda lamented the dismal FG result and FF celebrated their supposed revival and both parties chattered about Ireland’s economic recovery 400 people were lying (and dying) on trolleys waiting for basic medical care.

The reality is that our health service has been neglected for generations, indeed the number of hospital beds per head of population has been falling since 1987. Successive governments – made up of Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael with the support of others such as Labour, the Progressive Democrats and the Greens – have continually sought market solutions in the health sector; from prioritising patients with private health insurance to co-location of private and public hospitals and consultant contracts that allowed them to run private practices from public hospitals.

Last year in response to the overcrowding crisis the ‘Emergency Department Implementation Group’ was set-up by the INMO, HSE and the Dept. Of Health. They agreed on a policy and an action plan. According to INMO General Secretary Liam Doran all agreed-upon actions have not been taken in the current crisis. The group meets again on Thursday 15th April and the INMO says they will use the opportunity to call on health employers “to bring forward emergency investment, including beds and staff” in an effort to prevent April being another of the worst months on record.

FF-FG Political inertia is keeping our hospital wards clogged.

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