18 December 2016

Labour Party spokesperson on Health, Alan Kelly TD has welcomed the comments by Minister for Health Simon Harris on the possible use of private hospital Accident and Emergency facilities, but action is urgently needed now.

Deputy Kelly said:

“I originally proposed back in October that the Minister for Health should seek to use spare capacity in private Accident and Emergency facilities to relieve pressure on the public system.”

“The Minister should clarify what his plans are this week before the winter flu epidemic strikes. The Cabinet is meeting Tuesday so there is no reason why this sensible proposal can’t be progressed.”

“The next few weeks will be critical period for our health services, and as I said previously, it is immoral that people have to wait on trolleys in our hospitals when spare capacity in private A&E’s could be used to relieve the overcrowding burden on our health services.”

“Today the Minister said he ‘has been researching a proposal by the Labour Party’s Health spokesperson Alan Kelly which would involve the HSE paying private hospitals to take in patients on trolleys when wards become overcrowded’.

Reacting to that, Alan further said:

“As usual bureaucracy is being blamed for why this cannot happen. It is simply not good enough to say that my proposal is ‘not as straightforward as it sounds’.”

“The Minister has the power to make this happen, and I call on him to take urgent action now.”

“As I said before, it is wrong that a 90-year-old woman who goes into an emergency department, such as the Mater, could be on a trolley for two to three days and 100 yards down the road an executive can go into another emergency department and be treated immediately”

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