Taoiseach refuses to repeat promise to 'end the scandal of patients on trolleys'

Enda Kenny made the promise in his first campaign as Fine Gael leader in 2007

Enda Kenny, fine gael, campaign, patients, trolleys, taoiseach, scandal

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The Taoiseach says the situation of many patients on hospital trolleys is his biggest regret of his five years in power - but he will not commit to ending the situation in a second term.

Enda Kenny has turned down two opportunities to say whether he would repeat the promise to 'end the scandal of patients on trolleys' made in his first campaign as Fine Gael leader in 2007.

In an interview when he was twice asked if he would repeat the promise in the campaign next year, he said he understood the stress that being on trolleys caused people.

He added that recent high-profile cases involving elderly patients spending waiting on trolleys for lengthy periods are personally difficult for him.

Mr Kenny said that the Government is hoping to continue seeing a fall in the numbers on trolley waiting lists, as "it's always stressful for families when these things happen".

Asked if he would repeat his promise to eliminate trolley waiting lists forever, the Taoiseach instead offered a different commitment.

"Now that we have a record of five years of a substantial achievement in terms of rectifying the public finances of the country and job creation, I will say that my intention is to continue that forward development and economic progress," he said.

Sinn Féin has criticised the Taoiseach for refusing to repeat the promise.

“Sinn Féin has been saying for some time now that the government has no plan and no commitment to tackling the crisis in our health services," the party's Health spokesperson Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD  said.

“Earlier this month Sinn Féin published its comprehensive health policy called ‘Better for Health - A Sinn Féin Plan for Universal Healthcare’. In it we give a cast iron guarantee to increase health spending year on year, reaching an additional €3.3bn in year five of a government term to tackle the ongoing crisis," he added.