HARRIS MUST ANSWER QUESTIONS ON HSE WINTER INITIATIVE WARNINGS
Commenting on the revelations from FOI requests by journalist Ken Foxe, Labour spokesperson on Health, Alan Kelly TD has said Minister Harris must answer questions on how much he knew, and why the Department of Health deliberately down played HSE warnings on the risks of overcrowding in January. Deputy Kelly said:
“Department of Health records show that they requested the HSE to down play the possible risks to the Winter Initiative from flu, bad weather and other events, that would impact on hospital capacity.
“The Department of Health asked the HSE to move warnings on possible risks to the end of the document.
“Minister Harris also sent the original plan back to the HSE for revisions to make it more specific, so it is clear that he is very familiar with its contents.
“The Minister should clarify whether he was fully aware of the significance of the HSE warnings on a flu outbreak?
“He also needs to make clear if he wanted the risks down played to encourage more positive reporting on his plan.
“The whole point of the €40 million Winter Initiative was to manage the expected increase in demand during the winter and improve patient experiences.
“However the revelations show that the plan was fatally flawed from the beginning, not being able to cope with an outbreak of flu, or possible bad weather.
“Considering that January is ground zero for flu and bad weather Minister Harris should clarify whether his Department deliberately down played the risks and why he failed to ensure sufficient resources were put in place to tackle overcrowding in such a scenario.
“It is clear that more acute beds and staff are required, and now he should outline why plans were not in place to deliver this basic requirement.
“Basic questions as to why there wasn’t a plan to deal with a flu outbreak need to be answered by Minister Harris.
“As members of the opposition it is our duty to hold Minister’s to account, and I call on Minister Harris to answer these questions.
“I have also put forward six key proposals that I hope Minister Harris will take on board now to address the ongoing national emergency in our hospitals.
FOI releases from Ken Foxe: