Belfast Telegraph

Hospital trolley crisis is not defensible, says Varadkar

More than 400 sick patients were waiting for a hospital bed on Tuesday.

The Taoiseach has admitted that the ongoing hospital trolley crisis is “not defensible”.

Leo Varadkar said that more than 400 sick patients were waiting for a hospital bed on Tuesday morning and he insisted that the Government was doing all it could to alleviate the problem.

He said that plans to increase bed capacity were ongoing and that the health minister will present his review to the cabinet within the next few days.

“It is not defensible. If this was simply a matter of political will and not finance we would have resolved this a long time ago,” Mr Varadkar said during leaders’ questions in the Dail.

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Leo Varadkar press conference

The Fine Gael leader added that an additional 2,500 new inpatient beds are needed by 2031.

He warned however that the problem will not be resolved by increased resources alone.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin accused the Government of a “lack of planning”, “lack of urgency” and “inertia”.

“Three years ago you as minister for health said you were sick to death of the problem and would resolve it once and for all. That plan never materialised. The situation has become much worse,” added Mr Martin.

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Fianna Fail Ard Fheis

The Taoiseach hit back, saying: “You were a member of the government in 2006 that declared this a national emergency and you were in government for another five years after that and that was 11 years ago.”

He added: “A decision was taken in 2007 to start reducing our hospital stock. From 2007 onwards the number of acute hospital beds was reduced every year. I took the decision to reverse that.”

Mr Varadkar said he does not want any citizen “to face the indignity or clinical risk that comes with long stays on hospital trolleys.”

“As a doctor who worked for seven years in the health service, as a former minister for health and someone who has elderly relatives … this is something the Government is doing everything we can to alleviate both short-term and long-term issues.”

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams described the bed crisis as a “damning indictment of the Government’s health policy”.

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