24 July 2003 Edition
Beaumont Hospital crisis
Plans to close more A&E units must be dropped
Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described as "scandalous" the situation that has been allowed to develop at Dublin's Beaumont Hospital. He deplored the statement of the Minister for Health and Children Mícheál Martin's spokesperson that the situation was "an operational matter" for the hospital's authorities and the Department "could not interfere".
Up to 40 patients were left waiting for beds and ambulances had to wait up to three hours to get their trolleys back during the weekend overcrowding, which led to the cancellation of elective surgery on Monday and Tuesday. At the Mater, the situation was also stretched, with over 20 patients waiting for a bed in A&E on Monday. Eighty beds have been shut at the hospital this year due to financial constraints.
"The government's so-called Health Reform programme was launched with great fanfare last month but it does not make one whit of difference to people who continue to suffer on trolleys in overcrowded A&E units," said Ó Caoláin. "Crises such as those at Beaumont at the weekend will recur because of the underfunding and inequitable delivery of our health services.
"The government should drop its plans to close more A&E units in hospitals throughout the State. This is a recipe for further crises such as those at Beaumont, with patients forced to travel to centres that cannot cope. Are we to have a combination of the threatened A&E closures in local hospitals and bed closures in the bigger centres like Beaumont and the Mater, which led directly to the appalling situation at the weekend? That is the way this government is heading. It must be stopped."