Persistent overcrowding caused by lack of real community care options

08 January 2023
  • Trolley crisis causing serious damage to health workers’ physical and mental health

Labour health spokesperson Duncan Smith TD has this weekend criticised the Government for the lack of any real community care options for people presenting to Accident and Emergency Departments and said the persistent overcrowding in hospitals is causing serious damage to nurses, midwives, paramedics and other health workers’ physical and mental health.

Deputy Smith said: “Nurses and midwives are being pushed to the brink, paramedics dealing with a huge upsurge in demand are at breaking point, tens of thousands of health workers are experiencing unprecedented levels of burnout and the public are losing confidence in our health service. More shameful records are expected to be broken next week. Something has to give. The HSE has a duty to provide a safe environment for all health workers and patients. The reality is this just is not happening in the vast majority of hospitals and it is causing serious damage to workers’ physical and mental health.

“We need a new course of action to get to the root of these old and persistent problems. The Government sounds like a broken record every January. All health workers and patients get is tea, sympathy and excuses. We have never spent so much money on our health service yet we are seeing more people on trolleys and longer waiting lists. It is not good enough. People need real community care alternatives to hospital emergency departments. That is at the heart of the overcrowding crisis. A lack of options. To combat this there must be stronger coordination between community care facilities and hospitals to ensure that step down beds are available in the community for speedy discharges and that home help is readily available for people. Government must also commit to work hand in glove with our GPs, especially those providing out-of-hours services, to better support primary care.”

Smith also called on the Minister for Health to immediately implement the recommendations of review into the National Ambulance Service (NAS) to address staffing recruitment and retention concerns as a matter of urgency.

He added: “The NAS has been underfunded for years and needs a massive recruitment and retention drive just to keep pace with the level of service that is now needed. A properly staffed and funded NAS would be of huge benefit to communities, the acute hospital sector and the country at large. The Minister has the power and he needs to make it happen.”

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