Plan needed to prevent secondary deaths

04 May 2020
  • Private hospital capacity must be put to use now says Labour Leader.

  • Launch public awareness campaign now to encourage people to come forward and be treated

With warnings of an ‘apocalyptic’ surge in hospital waiting lists as the Covid-19 pandemic becomes more controlled, Labour Party Leader Alan Kelly TD has called for a massive public health awareness campaign to encourage people to engage with the HSE and their GPs on health concerns, and added that the near-empty private hospital capacity needs to be put to use to halt any surge into hospitals, and prevent secondary deaths.

Deputy Kelly said:

“The Minister for Health needs to get to grips with this emerging health threat asap. I am deeply concerned at the prospect of a surge in diagnoses of serious and chronic illnesses in the months ahead, as Covid-19 becomes more controlled, and the impact that will have on our hospitals if they are to run at 80% capacity. We also need a plan to get scheduled elective surgeries and treatments back up and running. This needs to be done to prevent secondary deaths.

“The HSE is spending millions renting private hospitals, but to date much of those state of the art facilities are not being used to their full capacity. If the Government invests in a massive public awareness campaign now much of the potential surge in non-Covid illnesses could be tackled over the summer. Private hospitals are running at one third capacity while the risk of secondary morbidites continues to grow.

“People need to be convinced that it is safe to visit healthcare facilities. A public awareness campaign is essential to address that, and ensure those who are worried about symptoms talk to their GP, get diagnosed, and then receive the treatment they need.

“We have empty wards and operating theatres in private hospitals that we are paying for. Now is the time to act instead of storing up problems for the future. A comprehensive plan is needed.

“I raised this with the Taoiseach last Thursday in the Dáil. I am aware of a consultant who diagnoses cancer eight times a week but has not done so for the last four weeks. These people are walking around not knowing they have cancer. We have a lack of screening for bowel and cervical cancer.  BreastCheck is not operating.  We also know we have elevated mental health risks. On top of that are the socioeconomic impacts of maintaining restrictions. All of this needs to be considered and that is the Government’s role.

“It’s time now for action, to ensure waiting lists are not allowed to grow any further.”

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