Sinn Féin held the second of their monthly hospital protests on Friday, this time highlighting the need for more surgical beds in Louth County Hospital.
Councillor Anne Campbell who led the protest said “we plan to be here each month until Louth Hospital starts to serve the people of Dundalk to its full potential.”
The protest which was attended by Gerry Adams TD, Cllrs Pearse McGeough and Ruairí Ó Murchú was highlighting the need for surgical beds. “At present, there are eight surgical beds in a day ward that are only doing very routine procedures. These beds are not always in use and are only available from 9am until about 4pm. Sinn Féin is calling for the use of these beds to be optimised and used 24hrs per day even if it’s only Monday to Friday. This would involve the presence of a clinician. At the minute, if there are any complications with a minor day procedure, the patient is ferried by ambulance to Drogheda where they will obviously be left on a trolley until they are seen, adding to the already overburdened workload at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.”
Cllr Campbell said “there are a number of very simple things that could happen at the Louth Hospital to ease the pressure on Drogheda and also ease the burden on patients in the Dundalk area and this is only one of them. We need to tackle the spiralling waiting lists in Louth and opening up these beds would certainly be a good start.”
In the meantime, Cllr Campbell who has been keeping the Minor Injuries Unit age reduction issue very firmly in the public eye has said she is waiting ‘impatiently for September’. Cllr Campbell is determined to hold the Minister to his promise of an age reduction of those being treated for minor injuries to 5 years from 14 years. Despite promises made by the Minister almost 2 years ago, it hasn’t happened yet and the date for implementation has been postponed a number of times. The latest date given to Cllr Campbell is September. “It would be so much easier for families with younger children if they could visit their local hospital with minor injuries instead of having to go to Drogheda Hospital and again, it would ease the burden on Drogheda. This is a very simple thing to do and I’m not letting the Minister of the hook here. I am waiting impatiently for September.”
The Dundalk South Councillor also promised to be at the hospital gates again next month and has invited people to join her on Friday 31st August at 3:30pm – 4:30pm
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”.
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams today challenged the Taoiseach on the worsening crisis in our emergency departments. INMO figures for today reveal that there are 528 people awaiting admittance to a ward. One of the highest trolley numbers is Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda which has 41 citizens on trolleys.
Gerry Adams said:
“Despite all of the bluster and promises from the government, and claims of investment in our health system, those patients attending our emergency departments have been increasingly left on trolleys because of a lack of capacity within those departments.
One example of government failure is the admission by the Minister for Health in a PQ to my colleague Louise O’Reilly TD that the Government’s much heralded bed capacity review, which was announced in the Programme for Government, has not yet had its terms of reference set.
Critically, the National Treatment Purchase Fund figures for last month revealed a health service under serious pressure from increasing waiting lists. In October there were 535,000 citizens on the public hospital waiting lists. This is another record number.
There are 12,216 outpatients waiting for treatment in Our Lady of Lourdes. Almost 5,000 of these patients have been waiting for more than six months. There are also 1106 citizens waiting for inpatient day case treatment in OLOL. Of these 377 are waiting on general surgery and 205 have been waiting for more than six months.
It is obvious that Government inaction on the crisis in emergency departments and acute hospitals is resulting in worsening trolley and overcrowding figures.
In the Dáil on Thursday evening Sinn Féin Louth and Meath East TD Imelda Munster raised the matter of 18 beds assigned to services for the elderly in Louth being closed due to nursing staff shortages.
Questioning Minister for State Catherine Byrne, as Minister for Health Simon Harris was unavailable, Deputy Munster asked that the Department instruct the HSE to implement a fast-tracking process to fill these vacancies.
“I realise there is an overall nursing recruitment plan in place but a significant part of the problem in my constituency is the serious delay by the HSE management nationally, not locally, in approving the filling of staff vacancies. It was known for months before the 18 beds were closed that there was a need to recruit staff. Those approvals were left on a desk or shelf gathering dust in the full knowledge of the crisis we were facing.”
“The HSE at national level is responsible for the closure of beds in Drogheda and Dundalk. They were fully aware of the impending crisis in elderly services in Louth and instead of approving the posts for the filling of vacancies well in advance, they closed 18 beds.”
“It is either total incompetence or a deliberate policy of bed closure. This will have a knock on effect on Our Lady of Lourdes hospital coming into the winter months. Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital is one of the worst in the country for overcrowding, being often top of the list in this regard. Yesterday, for instance, 29 patients were on trolleys there. I am calling on the Minister to reverse those cuts as we approach the winter.”
Deputy Munster expressed outrage that the Minister for Health wasn’t even in attendance to answer questions or be held accountable.
“The Minister needs to prioritise the fast-tracking of approval to fill vacancies on a national level and I intend to pursue the Minister on this matter.”
“Elderly services have been decimated in county Louth and the Minister needs to instruct senior management of the HSE to get their act together and fast-track the approval process and reinstate those beds as a matter of urgency”.