Munster calls on Minister to provide high-dependency beds to end last-minute cancellations

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has hit out at Minister for Health Simon Harris for the failures of the health service to carry out planned surgeries due to a lack of resources in hospitals.

Speaking in the Dáil this week, Deputy Munster outlined the case of a constituent who has had planned back surgery cancelled twice because there was no high dependency bed available.

Deputy Munster said:

“This woman has been on a waiting list for over a year for surgery due to complications of scoliosis. She is in severe pain.”

“Her surgery requires a high dependency bed be on standby, however on the two occasions that her surgery was scheduled such a bed was not available. On both occasions she had spent the night in hospital having pre-operative tests carried out, only to be told on the morning of surgery, in the theatre department, that the procedure had been cancelled.”

“Her surgeon has advised her that this can, and will, happen again and again. There is no end in sight for her, as nothing is being done to remedy the situation.”

“She has told me that the repeated cancellations are ‘emotionally and physically devastating”.

“The government made a commitment to reduce waiting times for hospital procedures. This situation is easily rectified. It’s little wonder that waiting lists are so long when basic procedures such as the provision of a standby high dependency bed cannot be guaranteed for patients, and surgeries are cancelled multiple times as a result.”

Minister Harris responded that he intends to increase the number of beds, and that he intends to build new elective-only hospitals.

Deputy Munster responded:

“This is a totally unsatisfactory response. Fine Gael have been in government for seven years, and they have failed to deliver. It is outrageous that the only response the Minister can muster is to that he intends to deliver more beds and build more hospitals. They’ve had seven years to address this.”

“It is totally unfair that patients continue to suffer due to the incompetence of the Minister and his department”.

Dundalk exclusion from Rent Pressure Zone compounds student accommodation crisis – Munster

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster has hit out at government for their failure to provide protections for tenants who are living in student accommodation across the state.

Deputy Munster was speaking on Sinn Féin’s private members’ bill which called for student-specific accommodation to be included under the Residential Tenancies Act to ensure that student accommodation be included in rent pressure zones and have protections under the Residential Tenancies Board.

Deputy Munster said:

“Student specific accommodation is expensive. Students and their parents across the state are under serious financial pressure due to the cost of third level education under this government.”

“Dundalk is an example of the lack of regulation over student accommodation. There are over 5000 students attending Dundalk IT. Students in the county are under pressure to find affordable accommodation, and there are no protections forthcoming for government regarding tenancy rights and rent control.”

“This government has failed to manage the private rental sector, which is now in a state of chaos. The only protection that is in place, which is clearly failing to address the problem of rent hikes, is the rent pressure zones, and the Minister has refused to include Dundalk in that initiative.”

“Rents in Louth increased again last year by 13.5%, which shows that the market is a basket-case, and this is by design of the government.”

“Our bill aimed to protect students, a vulnerable group, from greedy landlords. The government refused to support it. This is another indication of their complete disinterest in the state’s housing crisis.”

Cllr Anne Campbell: Works on Dublin Road ‘will reinstate cycle lanes’

Cllr Anne Campbell

“Works, currently causing significant traffic disruption on the Dublin Road in Dundalk, are to reinstate the cycle lanes damaged by pipe and cable laying” Councillor Anne Campbell has revealed.

The Sinn Féin Councillor has been speaking to the contractors, GMC, as well as Irish Water, and has been told the cycle lanes are to be reinstated in the coming days.

Councillor Campbell said, “Hundreds of motorists, as well as residents, hospital patients and students going to DkIT, have been impacted by the traffic delays caused by roadworks currently taking place on the Dublin Road, from the College to Hill Street Bridge.

“I have today (Wednesday) been speaking to the onsite contractors, GMC, who have informed me that the works are being done on behalf of Irish Water, who this winter, carried out a significant pipe laying project in the area.

“As a condition to the council granting permission to lay the pipes, Irish Water promised to reinstate the well-used cycle lane. The works, which started this week, are part of that reinstatement.

“The current phase of work, where a tarmac coursing is being laid, is expected to be completed by Friday evening, June 1st. However, I have to warn people that there will be a further few days of work, probably in the middle of June, to lay the anti-slip top on the cycle lane and then the white lines will also have to be put down.”

The Sinn Féin councillor added, “I understand how frustrating it has been for people on the Dublin Road in the last number of months, with seemingly endless roadworks, but I am happy that the cycle lanes are being reinstated by Irish Water and I would ask cyclists and drivers to bear with the contractors and allow some extra time for journeys until this important contract is completed.”

Cllr Anne Campbell: Minor Injuries Unit age limit delayed again

Cllr Anne Campbell

The long-promised reduction in the age of patients cared for at the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) at the Louth County Hospital has been delayed yet again, according to Councillor Anne Campbell.

The Sinn Féin Councillor has revealed that “it could now be as late as the end of September before the MIU will be in a position to drop the age limit from its current 14 years to five.”

The news came after Cllr. Campbell asked a question about the facility at the Regional Health Forum meeting in Kells on Monday.

She said: “Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams, along with Cllr. Tomás Sharkey, and I have been consistently asking when the MIU will drop the age limit after it was announced by Health Minister Simon Harris as far back as February last year.

“In November, when the Fine Gael leadership was in Louth, it was announced with a great fanfare that this would happen in the first quarter of 2018 but when that deadline passed, both Gerry Adams and I continued to ask when it would happen.

“We were subsequently told in March that the plan was to have the reduction in place by the end of June, but following my question to the RSCI Hospital Group, who run the Louth County, it has been revealed that it could be as late as September this year.

“This is a dreadful state of affairs for parents in the area, like myself, who have children under the current 14 years limit. Dozens and dozens are faced with travelling to Drogheda again this summer, despite the promises from Minister Harris and the Fine Gael party. Apart from anything else, lowering the age limit would alleviate the pressure on Drogheda hospital which is already overloaded and at breaking point.

“We will continue to press for the earliest possible introduction of this service and I intend to raise it once more at the next health forum meeting in July, where I will be asking what exactly the RCSI has been doing for the past 16 months to put this important measure in place. I Hope Minister Harris didn’t think he would make a grand announcement to grab a positive headline and then people would forget about it, because I can assure him, I am not letting this go. I will continue to pursue this until such times that 5 year old can be treated at the MIU in Louth Hospital.”

Cllr Cunningham: Stay Focussed on Facts in Cameron Case

Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham has asked the public to stay focussed on the facts in the Cameron Reilly investigation and to assist Gardaí in whatever way they can. This follows false reports that Cameron’s phone had been found.

Cllr Cunningham said “It has NOT been found. I would ask that members of the public in the surrounding areas of Dunleer and further afield if necessary, to please remain vigilant and to check in and around their property, especially gardens, bins or skips, in case it has been thrown there. It is an Apple iPhone 8x with a green hard back cover although that may have been removed.  Gardaí are very anxious to retrieve the phone.”

Cllr Cunningham also criticised a report in today’s Irish Mirror online in relation to the tragic case. He said “according to reports in the Irish Mirror, a ‘source’ told them that one of the groups that were present on Saturday night were ‘hardcore’ and ‘fancied themselves as republicans.’ This is a sinister attempt by that media outlet to use the case of Cameron Reilly to score some sort of political point and to further demonise those who happen to have a political goal that differs from theirs.”

Cllr Cunningham encouraged people to “ignore stories like this, this only serves to distract the public from the real issue which is to find out what happened to Cameron and to catch those responsible so they can be brought to justice and hopefully give his family some kind of peace of mind during this awful time.”

Cllr Cunningham also said “I would call on the Irish Mirror to hand over to the Gardaí, whatever information they have on this case, and they seem to have information that no-one else has.”

Councillors Pearse McGeough and Ruairí Ó Murchú attended a vigil held for Cameron along with Imelda Munster TD. “It was a very moving experience to see the outpouring of grief, disbelief and the support for the family. Dunleer was and is a great place to live and this awful tragedy in no way reflects the sense of community of the area.”

“I want to ask the public once again, if you know anything no matter how small or insignificant you think it is, please contact the Gardaí in Drogheda on 041-987 4200 or you can ring the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.

“We need to find out what happened to this young man who had his whole life ahead of him. Any information you have could be vital to the investigation. Do not get distracted by those who seek to use this for their own ends. Let’s keep focussed on Cameron and justice.”