Same trol­ley cri­sis – va­ri­ety of ex­cuses

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - By Ro­nan Stew­art

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.’

FLU SEA­SON

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’.

HOL­I­DAYS

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.

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