Limerick Senator hits out at ‘Health Minister in hiding’ over hospital crisis

Limerick Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan.

HEALTH Minister Stephen Donnelly has taken a lashing from a Limerick senator for not turning up to answer questions about the hospital on a week where there were 130 admitted patients waiting on trolleys for a bed.

Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has called out Minister Stephen Donnelly for not attending to debate the ongoing trolley crisis at University Hospital Limerick.

Senator Gavan hit out that “a new record was set again with 130 patients on trolleys at University Hospital Limerick on Monday (October 23), yet as I raised the issue in the Seanad, the Minister for Health didn’t attend”.

“This is the second time this year I have raised a commencement matter in the Seanad on the topic of UHL and both times the Minister for Health has failed to attend.

“Furthermore, my colleague Deputy Maurice Quinlivan has had the same experience twice in a row where the Minister did not show to address a topical issue on the hospital.

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“It seems the Minister is in hiding when it comes to the trolley crisis in UHL.

“Anyone who saw the video of the emergency department corridors in UHL on Monday, circulated in the media, would have thought it was a scene from a disaster movie.

“This is not a disaster movie, it is real people, real suffering, and real lives at risk at UHL.

Senator Gavan pointed to a recent study in the UK, which shows that for every 82 admitted patients whose time to in-patient bed transfer is delayed beyond six to eight hours from time of arrival at the emergency department, there is one extra death.

“That is an extremely worrying statistic when you look at the consistently high trolley numbers at UHL,” he said.

“The record of this government is appalling … What we needed to hear today was a plan as we head into the winter, which will obviously put further pressure on the hospital.

“The nurses, doctors, and staff are burned out and frustrated. They are concerned about patient safety but also about their own safety.

“All of this is compounded by the fact that the Minister for Health was thrown under the bus with the health budget for 2024, which has now led to a recruitment freeze. Healthcare Assistants who are leaving, some of whom have told me they are leaving because of the conditions they are working in, they will not be able to be replaced.”

He also said that it has been revealed that the 96 beds expected to be opened soon will now not be completed until 2025.

“And where is the Minister to respond to all this if he will not attend debates on the issue?”