THERE is now a crisis health situation where community, hospital, primary care and mental health care services across the country are simply not able to cope with the demand, Cork North Central Fianna Fáil Deputy Billy Kelleher told the Dáil.
A total of 7,781 admitted patients were on trolleys in the month of August alone, he said.
‘There were over 440 people on trolleys in our emergency departments last Wednesday, admittedly down today to 345, but still an extraordinary figure for this time of the year. Over 65,000 people were treated on trolleys during the first six months of 2017.
‘By any credible stretch of the imagination, the Tánaiste now has to accept that this Government, despite giving itself applause and claps on the back about the biggest budget it has provided for the healthcare services, is not providing the services that are required.
‘We now have a situation where, week on week, we have record after record being broken with regard to overcrowding in our emergency departments and the number of people in outpatient and inpatient services is now nearly at 700,000,’ he said.
‘Our acute hospital system is in crisis. Couple that with challenges in primary care and we are going to have a winter in which there will be an awful lot of pressure on our emergency departments,’ he predicted. ‘Elderly people in particular will be waiting inordinate periods to be admitted to hospital.’
In reply, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said the Government is focusing on the priority areas in health.
‘For example, reducing waiting times for the longest-waiting patients is one of the Government’s key priorities,’ she said.
‘It is for that reason that €20m was allocated to the National Treatment Purchase Fund, NTPF, in the Budget, rising to €55m in 2018.’
In order to reduce the numbers of long-waiting patients, she said the Minister for Health asked the HSE to develop waiting list action plans for 2017 in the areas of inpatient care and also scoliosis and outpatient services.
‘The inpatient, the day-case and the outpatient plans focus on reducing the number of patients who are waiting 15 months or more for inpatient and day-case treatment or for an outpatient appointment by the end of October,’ she said.
It was the first week of the Dáil’s return after the summer recess.