Harris sets out three-point plan for hospital overcrowding

The Health Minister says there is “no room for complacency at all” when it comes to overcrowding

Harris sets out three-point plan for hospital overcrowding

Minister for Health Simon Harris |Photo: RollingNews.ie

Patients and nurses’ representatives have called for increased investment in the Health Service in order to tackle hospital overcrowding.

The groups have been meeting with the Minister for Health and HSE representatives at the Emergency Department Taskforce today.

The meeting comes as figures from the INMO show there are 392 patients waiting on trolleys and in wards around the country today.

The figures hit their peak at the start of January this year – getting as high as 612 on January 3rd.

Heading in to today’s meeting, Stephen McMahon from the Irish Patients' Association said the fact that figures have dropped to below 400 doesn't mean the problem’s solved.

“We haven’t hit the targets that the minister and the HSE have set, which is no more than 236 waiting on trolleys on any particular day,” he said.

“We also have another huge problem which is that one in four of all people that have health insurance are waiting on some sort of a waiting list.

“So you may get a feeling that we have some sort of sunshine here but at the end of the day we still have some very serious problems that need to be addressed.”

The Health Minister said there is “no room for complacency at all” when it comes to overcrowding.

He said there are three main building blocks that need to be put in place to deal with the crisis – more beds, more staff and a new GP contract to “look at what extra can be done in primary care rather than in an acute hospital setting.”

“We have come through a very difficult winter and what I am determined to do is use the period of time between now and next winter to put in place those building blocks,” he said.

“I think they are the three crucial ingredients if we want to break the cycle in hospital overcrowding and I am absolutely determined that we will make progress in each and every one of them.”

He insisted that work was underway in all three areas with a bed capacity review underway and “very fruitful talks” held with the INMO to examine how best to go about hiring 1200 new nurses.

“Those three pieces that I have talked about needing to put in place, it is not just talk now - each of those actions are already underway in advance of next winter.