Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has described the latest figures for patients on hospital trolleys as a damning indictment of the Government.
The Ireland South MEP was speaking following a report published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation which revealed that more than 550 patients were waiting on trolleys.
“These statistics, while outrageous, are not surprising,” she said.
“This government, far from tackling this crisis, refuses to accept that the crisis even exists.
“Well there are 557 people on trolleys in hospitals across the country who would disagree with them.
“The fact is that overcrowding is endemic. We are seeing unacceptable numbers of patients forced to wait without a proper bed and this is just one of the myriad of issues facing our health service.
“In Limerick University Hospital alone there are 76 people waiting for proper beds. And what is the Government’s response to this? They plan to close an in patient ward, which will result in the loss of 17 more beds.
“You would think it’s fairly straightforward logic but apparently this Government needs to be told that getting rid of beds will not help patients get beds.
“It will only worsen Limerick’s overcrowding crisis, and will make it more difficult for frontline staff to deliver treatment to patients who are being forced to wait in corridors.
“It’s quite clear that neither Health Minister Simon Harris nor the rest of the government have listened to a single thing nurses, midwives, doctors and paramedics have been trying to tell them.
“They have been content to paper over the cracks and tell people everything is fine while those who work within our health service are trying to warn them that it’s crumbling.
“We need action and we need it fast. The government must work with unions to address the systemic problems in the health service and get patients off trolleys and into hospital beds
“We have been waiting for solutions for far too long. If Minister Harris is unable to get a handle on this crisis, he must go. In his catastrophic tenure as Health Minister we have seen the service limp from crisis to crisis, while the very people he derides are the only thing holding it together.”