Belfast Telegraph

Simon Harris cancels St Patrick’s Day trip to tackle hospital crisis

The Health Minister said it did not ‘feel right’ to travel when staff were coping with overcrowding.

Health Minister Simon Harris has cancelled his St Patrick’s Day trip to Europe to concentrate on tackling the hospital overcrowding crisis.

Mr Harris was due to fly to the Netherlands and Belgium for the annual celebrations.

However, on Tuesday he said it did not “feel right” to travel while those in the health service worked to try and deal with the overcrowding problem.

In a tweet he said: “People across the health service are working extraordinarily hard to make progress in what is a difficult week.

“I am in regular contact with HSE. It would not feel right to me as Minister to travel for St Patrick’s Day so I have made decision not to do so”.

Earlier in the day Independent TD Mattie McGrath had called on the Minister to reconsider his trip.

“I think it is grossly irresponsible for Minister Harris to be out of the country at a time when almost every major local and regional hospital is in the grip of capacity crisis with respect to patients on trolleys,” said Mr McGrath.

On Monday overcrowding in hospitals across the county reached new record levels with 714 people waiting on trolleys.

The figure remained high on Tuesday with 649 patients waiting on trolleys in hospitals across the country, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

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