Government has published a wish list not a plan for winter healthcare

Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan. Pic. Emma Jervis/ Press 22
Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan. Pic. Emma Jervis/ Press 22

SINN Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan has criticised the Government’s 2020/21 Winter Plan as a wish list which is short on targets, timelines and ambition. I am really fearful of a winter crisis at UHL.

Deputy Quinlivan said: “This is a wish list, not a plan – it is lacking in detail, targets, and timelines for staff recruitment and bed delivery. It is underwhelming and very disappointing.

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“I had hoped to see more from the Minister on this matter. He know the difficulties faced by our local hospital UHL, he knows the difficulties caused by bed and particularly bed shortages. I am sure he knows that this wish list is far too little and the results of this initiative will be seen as way too late at University Hospital Limerick.

“It’s not a plan to catch up on missed care, it’s not a plan to build capacity, it’s not even a plan to stand still. Limerick people will not be impressed.

“It falls far short on the number of beds and staff required to safely deliver appropriate care in the coming winter months.

“The Sinn Féin plan, which was launched in early August, would deliver 1,100 additional acute and sub-acute beds and 50 ICU beds this year, €40 million to kickstart Cancer care, and bring on an additional 2,500 staff ahead of winter, not after. A plan that would let Limerick people that finally the ongoing yearly crisis at UHL would be tackled.

“The Government plan will only deliver 251 acute beds and 89 sub-acute beds in 2020 and 232 acute beds in early 2021.

“The 17 ICU beds proposed is far short of what is needed. Additional ICU beds in early 2021 will be crucial but no target has been set.

“These new bed numbers include additional beds already due to come online; it only provides revenue funding to open them not capital funding to deliver additional beds.

“The HSE admits that the so-called ‘new’ beds will only mitigate covid-related capacity shortfalls, not meet demand.

“There are hundreds of unfilled vacancies across the health service including many here in Limerick, as the INMO and IHCA have said. Without filling these, new beds cannot be opened.

“Without clear commitments and rapid recruitment this will not relieve the burden on existing staff – they are overworked, burned out, and have worked hard through last winter and this pandemic with no relief.

“There are no mentions of disability services and mental health services, and no funding to kickstart cancer services this year.

“We welcome the investment in occupational welfare supports for frontline staff, investment in community care and community intervention teams, and the winter flu expansion.

“These were core parts of our Capacity Protection plan. But these alone are not enough and the rest of the plan misses the mark. It is another missed opportunity to deliver a proper health service for people in the Mid-West.