Thomas Pringle TD

Thomas Pringle TD – Hospital Overcrowding is F*cking Ridiculous!

The Minister is probably tired of hearing this discussion in the Dáil. It gets a bit depressing having to come in here and say it all the time but it deserves to be said. Everybody has their local hospital and every hospital is in the same level of crisis. It comes down to a lack of management. It has started from the wrong place. I agree with a lot of what Deputy Paul Murphy has said. We are always starting in the wrong place, and as long as we do that, we will always be in this situation. If Fianna Fáil jumps over into power, it will have the same problem, it will say the exact same things the Minister is saying now, the Minister will be on the Opposition benches saying the exact same things Fianna Fáil is saying, and it will be the same crap.

The reality is this started with Mac the Knife back in the late 1980s and that process was continued by Fianna Fáil. The Minister has continued it on hell for leather. When will they learn it is not working and it can never work? The reality is we cannot keep cutting and expect it to work. The reality is we cannot keep focusing on budgets and expect to get more for it because it will not happen and it cannot happen. The reality is we have to bite the bullet and decide to provide more money for the health services so the service can deal with the problems it has. We have an ageing population, we have an increasing demographic that needs the treatment and we need the proper home care services so people can get services at home. That will help our hospitals and that has to be done. Unfortunately, this Government is not doing it, Fianna Fáil will not do it and no Government in this State will do it if it only concentrates on funding and budgets as a way of doing it because that will not make any difference.

The way the Government is focusing on the problem has led to 49 people waiting on trolleys in Letterkenny University Hospital this morning. That is up four from yesterday when it was 45. It remains the second most overcrowded hospital in Ireland for the third consecutive day. For the month of October, the INMO confirmed a total of 693 people were either on trolleys or waiting on wards in the hospital over the four-week period, making it one of the most overcrowded hospitals in the country, and this could be repeated across the board. At Letterkenny University Hospital, there were 19,108 people awaiting inpatient or outpatient treatment at the end of June. That is up 1,906 from June 2018, an increase of 11%. In Letterkenny University Hospital, over 2,000 more people are awaiting an outpatient appointment. A total of 1,783 women are waiting for a gynaecologist appointment at Letterkenny University Hospital. That waiting list has been growing for the past five years. The recruitment embargo has prevented management at Letterkenny University Hospital from recruiting the nurses, doctors and support staff required to reopen the hospital short stay ward fully. Those are the facts of the matter and that can be repeated across the board. In Letterkenny University Hospital we also have an ambulance service that is run for a big county but where most of the ambulances are sitting at the hospital waiting to discharge patients into it. That is fucking ridiculous. This has gone on and on and we are here all the time talking about it. It should not continue but the Minister is not dealing with the problem properly because the problem is a funding issue and that is where the solution will be. If the Minister is constantly talking about doing more for less, he will do less for less. That is the reality of the situation and that is all that will happen.

I personally have a problem with the €1.5 billion we give in VHI tax breaks. Why do we not put that into the health services? That would raise €1.5 billion straight away. Instead of giving people tax breaks for having private health insurance, and I pay for other people to have private health insurance, we should put that money into the health services and make sure they are responsible towards our people. Then we might see some difference. However, it will go the way the Minister is going, we will go into an election with the Minister in crisis mode, Fianna Fáil will say it is terrible, it will go into government, it will do the same and Fine Gael will say it is terrible. That is all that will happen.

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