The end is near for both the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, and this Government as the number of people on trolleys in Irish hospitals reaches record highs, according to Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

Figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) indicated that there were 760 patients without beds in Irish hospitals this morning, a record high since the organisation first started collating the data 14 years ago.

Fitzmaurice said: “It is shocking to think that we could fill Ireland’s largest hospital – St James’s Hospital – with the number of people that are currently on trolleys right around this country and still have over 50 patients who would be waiting on a bed.

“To think that we have reached this stage is both frightening and disturbing. One hospital alone had almost 100 patients on trolleys, a record for a single hospital.

“Frontline staff cannot be blamed for this mess, as they are endeavouring to cope with the influx in patients during the busy flu season.

“Minister Harris and his department needs to be held accountable for the chaos that is unfolding in hospitals around the country.

“The minister needs to open his eyes to the reality of what is facing nurses and doctors, who take the brunt of some people’s frustrations after long waits – despite their best efforts to carry out their duties as precisely, efficiently and quickly as possible.

“Most nurses and doctors, especially those in the emergency departments, go home both physically and mentally drained after working a 12-hour shift – or possibly even longer due to being short staffed.

“But when questioned about the sector, Minister Harris is a master of deflection. He quickly jumps to a new topic in an effort to bamboozle those asking the questions.

“Ironically, as the record trolley figures emerged today, the minister revealed plans to introduce free GP care for all children under 16 if the party is re-elected to government.

“Another empty promise, given that GP services are already stretched to the limits – with free GP care already in place for children under six.

“Where is the thinking behind heaping more pressure on a service that is almost at breaking point? All it will achieve is yet another crisis within the health sector.

“During media interactions today, the minister was quoted as saying that he was told by the HSE this morning that the demand for home care packages is near record lows.

“This is incredulous, given that it is near impossible in Roscommon to secure home care packages – to support older people to remain in their own homes – due to staff shortages.

“To hear that demand for packages is near record lows is very suspicious, given the number of cases my office has been dealing with in recent months.

“However, the minister will soon have to face up to the deficiencies in the sector and pay the price,” Fitzmaurice concluded.

Michael Fitzmaurice 086-1914565

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