Decisive action needed on healthcare systemDublin People 01 Aug 2015
THE ongoing crisis in A&E departments around the country can be acutely felt on the northside of Dublin, in Beaumont Hospital.
For too many years now, overcrowding has been a problem brewing under the surface, only to bubble up during periods of intense pressure on our hospitals, especially during the winter months.
But this year, we have seen that this problem is no longer confined to the winter months.
In June, two elderly women, both over the age of 100, were left on hospital trolleys overnight.
This represented the degrading and inhumane treatment that some of our senior citizens have had to endure. It is unacceptable and must stop.
Notwithstanding the gravity of the situation, the Government has engaged in precious little action on the topic.
Their unacceptable lacklustre response has ensured that after four and a half years in office, the overcrowding problems have not receded in any way. The Minister for Health set up the Emergency Department Task Force last December to explore long-term solutions to the crisis, but this venture was simply too little too late and has been nothing more than a talking shop.
I have consistently raised this issue in the DÃ¡il and suggested a number of policies which would help provide immediate relief to the crisis, yet at the same time develop sustainable solutions to ensure the crisis comes to an end.
I call on the Minister for Health to seriously consider these suggestions and make a commitment to tackling the problem head on.
1. Funding needs to be ring-fenced to ensure adequate resources are available to hospitals which are drastically understaffed, particularly in relation to doctors and nurses.
With this completed, more staff could be recruited and some of the pressures currently faced by hospital staff would be alleviated.
Adequate funding would mean staff and patient safety would not be compromised in any way – a fundamental tenet of any world class healthcare system.
2. The waiting time for the Fair Deal Scheme needs to be further reduced. Many elderly people are being kept in hospitals, the only reason being the bureaucratic and slow operation of the Fair Deal Scheme.
To help resolve this problem, we in RENUA Ireland would provide for the money collected as part of a dramatically reformed local property tax to be returned directly to local areas to develop and fund community nursing homes, thereby freeing up more much needed space in hospitals across the country.
3. The Primary Care Centres promised need to be opened as soon as possible. In a positive development, the HSE has earmarked two Primary Care Centres for the Dublin Bay North constituency. One will be in Coolock/Darndale and the other in Edenmore. These centres need to be opened this year to relieve some of the pressure on Beaumont Hospital.
And once again, if RENUA Ireland’s vision of a fundamentally reformed local property tax is implemented, local funding will be available to invest directly in vital community services.
In conclusion, I call on the Minister for Health to take necessary and decisive action to commit to making our healthcare system world class, as at present our hospitals and dedicated hospital staff are being ignored and starved of vital extra resources.
This is not a healthy position for our country to be in and it will only change when the Government commits fully to tackling the problem head on.
?¢Terence Flanagan is a RENUA Ireland TD for Dublin Bay North.