Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has expressed his serious concern at the number of vacancies for consultant posts in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. His concern follows the publication of figures released to his party colleague Louise O’Reilly about vacant consultant posts in hospitals across the state.
Teachta Adams said:
“Sinn Féin and hospital consultants and their representatives have been stating for some time that there is a recruitment and retention crisis within the health service. The figures released to Deputy O’Reilly confirm that this is a real issue that affects every hospital across the state.
According to the figures there are at least 349 vacant consultant posts in hospitals. In some areas the number involved is deeply worrying.
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital is among the better resourced but nonetheless there are currently 7 vacant consultant posts within the hospital. All of these impact on essential health services provided in OLOL. There is one consultant less than the number required covering each of the speciality services of dermatology; emergency medicine; geriatric medicine; intensive care; orthopaedic surgery; child and adolescent psychiatry, and psychiatry.
With 2,700 children in the state needing access to Child and Adolescent Psychiatry the lack of 13 such consultant posts in the state, one of which covers Louth and Meath, is a serious concern.
The HSE has tried to paper over the cracks by employing doctors not on the specialist register as consultants and employing locum/agency consultants, but its short term solutions are not working.
The government must urgently address the recruitment and retention crisis affecting consultants and the Minister for Health and the HSE need to engage with representatives of the consultants and draw up a properly resourced plan to fill these posts. The gap in consultants is placing patients and staff under stress and at risk.”
The issue of parking remains to be a bone of contention in Drogheda especially around the Lourdes Hospital. At April’s Drogheda Municipal meeting the issue was raised and it was agreed that it should be ‘addressed urgently by the Council and the HSE’. The same issue subsequently dominated a special sitting of the parking committee made up of members and officials from Louth County Council some two weeks later.
As a result of the frustrations of the members over the heightened congestion in the area, and the concern’s raised by local residents in the vicinity the then Director of Service’s for Operations, Catherine Duff, under took to seek an immediate meeting with the HSE to discuss options to maximise the use of their own HSE carpark on both the Crosslanes and indeed on the hospital grounds also, with a view to alleviating some of the congestion in the surrounding areas.
Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne, at this month’s Municipal meeting sought an update on the issue.
An outraged Joanna Byrne said “I only discovered that no such meeting has taken place, but it hadn’t even been requested. In the interim Catherine Duff has been replaced by Willie Walsh as the Director and he simply shrugged his shoulders stating that he didn’t ‘deem it necessary’ as the local authority would have no control over the actions of the HSE and he could not guarantee any co-operation from them.”
This was like a red rag to a bull to Cllr Byrne who replied to him, “With all due respect Mr. Walsh, we are sitting here six weeks later from when this was requested and agreed to by the members, you yourself sat at the subsequent parking meeting where we delved into this in some depth and now you are telling us that you do not deem it necessary? Whether you deem it necessary or not is simply irrelevant. It is complete disregard on your part for previous agreements made on such an important issue, and complete disregard for the will of the members. I am re-iterating the request that this meeting is sought immediately and a report on the same circulated to the members. I do not wish to return again next month to the same laidback, uninterested approach from officials on this matter!”
Following the meeting, Cllr Byrne wrote to the Director of Services expressing her dissatisfaction that there was no follow through on this, especially considering the parking issues that is troubling all of the constituents of Drogheda at present, once again laying down her expectations that officials get on board with the members and endeavour to work with them in fixing this debacle.
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital has confirmed, that following Parliamentary Questions submitted by Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster, that it offers reduced parking fee arrangements where parents, relatives or service users are attending the hospital on a frequent basis and where the burden of car parking charges may cause or increase hardship. The rate offered is a flat fee of€4 per day, regardless of length of stay or number of visits on a given day.
Hospital Management advise that in such cases the ward manager or social worker dealing with the patient or their family will make them aware of the provision of such arrangements and arrange for the appropriate process to be put in place.
However, Sinn Féin TD, Imelda Munster believes that it is not good enough to expect the already hard pushed hospital staff to be in a position to ensure that patients and their families are aware of this arrangement, nor does every patient have a social worker appointed to them.
‘If they genuinely want people to avail of this facility then they need to be up-front and pro-active about it,’ says Deputy Munster.
‘In the interests of transparency, I have contacted the hospital management requesting that they advertise the availability of the €4 flat fee strategically in Car Parks, at the Parking Pay Zones, at Reception as well as on lifts and notice boards throughout the hospital.’
‘The public are clearly not aware of this!’
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.
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has expressed his “deep concern at the ongoing crisis in Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda and the state wide numbers of patients still languishing each day on trolleys
The Louth TD criticised the “decision of Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil to block a Sinn Féin motion on the first day of the new Dáil that would have allowed the questioning and scrutiny of the work of the caretaker Ministers, including the Minister for Health, as well as calling for the scrapping of water charges.”
The March 22nd meeting of the Dáil will not be able to hold Ministers to account and to scrutinise their decisions or the work of the departments.”
Gerry Adams TD said:
“On Thursday on the first day of the 32nd Dáil emergency departments in hospitals across the state had one of their worst days for trolley numbers. There were 511 on trolleys. Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda had 38 people on trolleys.
On Friday that number was 493 state-wide and 25 in Our Lady of Lourdes.
The crisis in the emergency departments remains undiminished.
This chaos in our health service is a direct consequence of the bad policies of the Fine Gael and Labour government, and of Fianna Fail before them.
Last year 92,998 people were treated on trolleys in hospitals. This is the highest ever number of patients since 2006 and represents an increase of 21% in hospital overcrowding.
The irresponsible decision by Fianna Fáil to close essential services and to downgrade Louth County hospital is a significant cause of the crisis in Our Lady of Lourdes.
All of the establishment parties have promised at one time or another that they will end the crisis in the health service and all have broken this promise.”