Absence of Winter Initiative shows chaos in Health – Adams

Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has described the fact that the Minister for Health has not yet produced a Winter Initiative for 2018/19 as ‘ominous’.

Deputy Adams said;

“It is clear that many years of underinvestment in frontline health services and staff have resulted in what can only be described as a permanent state of crisis in our healthcare system.

“In our hospitals, which provide acute care to the most vulnerable people, we witnessed record levels of overcrowding during the summer due to a shortage of beds and inadequate care availability in the community.

“Relentless pressure on staff has led to a crisis in the recruitment and retention of nurses.  

“Just yesterday nursing and midwifery delegates belonging to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and the Psychiatric Nurses Association voted to reject government proposals which do not sufficiently deal with the issue of pay, setting the scene for industrial action.

“The Minister is well aware that the winter presents increased challenges to Emergency Departments, yet in a reply to a parliamentary question which I tabled earlier this month, he admits that preparations have only begun at hospital and local level.

“In 2016 the Winter Initiative was published on 9th September.  But this year Minister Harris has confirmed that he has not yet even met with all of the chairpersons of the hospital groups.

“Coupled with the ominous absence of a winter initiative, there are currently 169 staff vacancies across Emergency Departments.

“The Minister has informed me that he has filled these vacancies through the use of expensive agency staff and overtime arrangements – this is not acceptable and it is not sustainable.

“The Minister has been in situ for over two years, he must step up to the mark to ensure safe levels of care in our hospitals this coming winter.”

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.”

Imelda Munster TD calls for road repair plan from Department of Transport

Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport Imelda Munster TD has today called on the Minister for Transport to ensure that damage caused to roads during Storm Emma is quantified and a plan, including details of additional funding, is put in place to allow for the repair of damaged roads in the very near future.

Deputy Munster said:

“There has been widespread damage caused to roads due to snow and ice in the past week. The extent of this damage will become clearer in the coming days and weeks, but it is important that the Department of Transport has assessed the road network, and has made provision for all required repairs and maintenance.”

“It is important that the Department has a plan for assessing the damage to transport infrastructure, and I would like to hear detail on plans to carry out repairs including how they will be funded.”

“The Department of Transport and the Department of Housing, Local Authorities and the TII are all on the same page in this regard. “

“After a very difficult week for most people during Storm Emma, the Department must ensure that roads are brought back to a decent condition to ensure that the legacy of Storm Emma does not drag on for months or even years, as has unfortunately been the case after previous extreme weather events.”

“The Department has a very poor record indeed on this, and I am sure that we are all aware by this stage that our roads have been significantly underfunded for the past decade.”

“I am calling on the Minister to review the funding situation for our roads, both this year, in the aftermath of the storm, and in the coming few years to bring funding to the required level to ensure the viability and safety of the network.”

Kenneth Flood Welcomes Cannabis Motion

Councillor Kenneth Flood has welcomed the cross Party support he received for his Cannabis Motion at this month’s Louth County Council meeting.
The text of the motion was:
 “Louth County Council calls on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, to introduce legislation that will legalise the use of medicinal Cannabis in the treatment of patients with specified medical conditions which have failed to respond to all other previous treatments”
Speaking after the meeting Cllr Flood said “I welcome the support from all parties from all parts of the county. I was especially encouraged by the contributions made during the debate showing how well informed the contributors were on this issue. Now the motion has been passed the letter will go to Minister Harris outlining our support for this legislation and hopefully the Minister will stop dragging his feet on this issue.”

“We all know why this legislation is needed quickly thanks to the campaigning of Vera Twomey for her daughter Ava Twomney, who has a severe form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. This has brought many others forward to campaign for the medicines that can change their lives.”

The Medicinal Cannabis Bill was passed in the Dail in December 2016 and in March 2017 the HPRA that regulates medicines in Ireland recommended access to medicinal cannabis under a monitored, five-year programme, confined to a number of specific illnesses.

Cllr Flood commented “A dozen EU States have access programmes up and running already. It shouldn’t take the Minister this long to enact the legislation when there are several successful access programme templates that he can replicate. While the minister procrastinates, his hesitance to progress this legislation is driving people like Ava Twomey out of the country to access the cannabis based medicines that can change her quality of life.”

Cllr Flood called on the Minister to make those medicines available here as soon as possible.

Imelda Munster TD tackles Minister on Drogheda slip road tolls

Imelda Munster white coatSinn Féin Spokesperson for Transport Imelda Munster TD today questioned Minister Shane Ross about the ongoing matter of slip road tolls in Drogheda. Speaking in the Dáil, she accused Minister Ross of failing to take on board the adverse effect the tolls have on the people of Drogheda.

Deputy Munster said:

“The Minister doesn’t care about the people of Drogheda. People are being taxed for living, working, shopping and visiting Drogheda town. This affects local businesses, investment and tourism in the town.”

Deputy Munster said that it was ludicrous that people have to pay a toll to get from one side of the town to the other.

Deputy Munster continued:

“Why would any investor choose Drogheda over other towns when people are asked to pay a toll on entry and exit? It’s the only tolled town in Ireland. The Minister needs to get real and do something about it.”

Deputy Munster said that the Minister accepted the reasoning given by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) on the matter. They have commissioned a “bespoke”, or made to order, survey in Drogheda to protect the impact and cost of toll removal.

Deputy Munster concluded:

“This methodology is not applied on any other motorway. It is incredible, ridiculous and invented to come up with calculations not used anywhere else. It makes it impossible to compare the potential costs of toll removal.

“The Minister and TII know that they can’t justify it. Minister Ross needs to accept that the slip road tolls are not working for Drogheda or for the people of Drogheda. He needs to take action on this.”