Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has described the health service as being in a worse state now than when Fine Gael took charge in 2011. The Sinn Féin TD said that with the number of patients on trolleys soaring, that the service is totally unprepared for the winter months.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“After eight years of Fine Gael government the health service is now in a worse state than when they took charge.

“Trolley data from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has shown that 485 patients are languishing on trolleys in hospitals throughout the State today coming from a high of 598 during the week.

“An astonishing 67 of these sick patients are stuck on trolleys at University Hospital Limerick – nearly enough people to fill two hospital wards.

“Tallaght University Hospital has 19 today from a high of 22 during the week. Thankfully the National Children’s Hospital in Tallaght and Our Lady’s in Crumlin are managing with no children on trolleys.

“The current situation across the health service is abysmal. There is a recruitment ban in place despite a staffing crisis across nearly all the professions. Waiting lists are growing for live changing procedures month on month.

“Trolley numbers are at their highest ever level. Home help hours are being frozen and cut. The lack of step down beds means many patients who are ready to be released are stuck in expensive hospital beds unable to go home because of a lack of any supports that will enable them to lead independent lives.

“Disability services are also under attack from a lack of key personnel. Children with profound speech and language are waiting years on lists and the demands for special school places for children are at an all-time high

“Clearly we are seeing a perfect storm emerging and the health service is totally unprepared for the winter ahead. All through the summer the number of patients on trolleys has been higher than in previous years, and now the situation has dramatically escalated.

“If serious changes are not forthcoming then the health service could very well collapse under the sheer weight of mismanagement and incompetence from the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, and the HSE this winter.”