Same trolley crisis – variety of excuses
SENIOR HSE FIGURES
SEPTEMBER 2015: Then-health minister Leo Varadkar warns HSE managers and senior hospital staff that ‘heads would roll’ if the winter trolley crisis gets worse.
SLOW PATIENT DISCHARGES
NOVEMBER 2015: Minister Varadkar demands faster patient discharges. He said that he often sees overcrowded A&E departments but empty beds in wards when he makes unannounced hospital visits.
TOO MANY BEDS AND RESOURCES
FEBRUARY 2016: Mr Varadkar said that more beds and more resources in hospitals do not reduce overcrowding. In an interview he said: ‘What can happen in some hospitals is, sometimes, when they have more beds and more resources, that’s what kind of slows it down.’ Why? ‘Because they [hospital staff] don’t feel as much under pressure.’
JANUARY 2017: Health Minister Simon Harris blames the trolley crisis on an unpredictable spike in influenza cases that he says created a ‘perfect storm’ for hospitals causing more than 600 people to languish on trolleys in hospitals around the country in January 2017. The rise in flu cases was considered ‘totally predictable’ by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.
BAD HOSPITAL MANAGEMENT
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017: Minister Harris urges Tony O’Brien, then-chief executive of the HSE, to remove hospital managers who fail to reduce the backlog of patients languishing on trolleys in overcrowded hospital wards. Mr Harris told Mr O’Brien to implement policy to allow him to sanction HSE staff who don’t ‘measure up’.
LACK OF BED CAPACITY
NOVEMBER 2018: Minister Harris accepts that the health service doesn’t have enough beds to tackle overcrowding in Irish hospitals and that ‘more beds’ was the ‘clear’ solution. He said the Government has ‘a plan to increase hospital beds by 2,600 over the next 10 years’ to help alleviate the crisis.
However, Dr Gilligan of the Irish Medical Organisation said that ‘2,600 beds over 10 years will mean another decade of compromised care in Irish emergency departments. The 2,600 beds are needed now and more will be required in the coming decade’.
NOVEMBER 2018 – Taoiseach Leo Varadkar calls on the HSE to cancel Christmas leave for doctors and nurses to prevent chaos in hospitals. He said: ‘It makes sense if you are running your business well, to always make sure that you match peak demand with peak resources.’ His solution? To ensure that consultants are not on holidays in the first week of the year and nurses are not on leave in the first two weeks of January.