Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has accused the Government of failing to prepare for any stress on the critical care network of the Health Service, let alone COVID.

His comments come after Professor Paul Ridgway of Tallaght University Hospital confirmed on RTÉ’s News at One programme that 13 of the 14 ICU beds in the hospital are full yesterday, with only 3 of those patients being treated for COVID.

Teachta Crowe said:

“Successive governments have failed to invest properly in the Irish Health Service. For years, experts have warned that any crisis would push our hospitals to the brink of what they can handle. We see it annually with the flu season and we have seen it since March with COVID.

“The HSE were warned 11 years ago that we had to double the number of ICU beds by 2020 to handle the growth in demand as time went on.

“We have less beds now than we did in 2009. The Government couldn’t possibly have predicted COVID, but they left us wide open to any crisis like it.

“Listening to Professor Paul Ridgway of Tallaght Hospital on RTÉ Radio yesterday, 13 of the 14 ICU beds in Tallaght are being used today with only 3 of those patients being treated for COVID as we face into the likelihood of a second wave.

“ICU beds are not used exclusively for COVID-19 patients. Hundreds of scheduled surgeries have had to be postponed or cancelled because there is no facility to receive a patient coming out of theatre. These are operations that people rely on to transform and improve their quality of life.

“Tallaght have a plan to add 12 ICU beds but that will require a built extension to the ward. We should have facilitated the building of extensions like the one in Tallaght in our hospitals 10 years ago but it is never too late to start to address and improve the ICU facilities that the people of this area rely upon.

“The Winter Plan disappointingly proved to be a repackaging of measures already announced by Government. Now is the time to support hospitals like Tallaght, investing where the need is obvious and building what clearly needs to be built.”