Trolley figures 'a stark warning of an extremely difficult winter ahead' - Clarke

An extremely difficult period lies ahead for workers and patients in Midlands Regional Hospital Mullingar, a local TD has warned.

Speaking this week, Deputy Sorca Clarke said that the high number of patients being treated on trolleys at MRH Mullingar in recent weeks is “ a stark warning of an extremely difficult winter ahead” and is a direct result of “the government's failure to deliver enough hospital capacity over the last three years”.

“Workers and patients in Longford Westmeath will face into severely overcrowded hospitals, which will have no choice but to cancel planned appointments and surgeries to cope with surging winter demand.

“This situation was avoidable. The Minister announced 1,200 new beds three years ago, and 200 of them have yet to be delivered. He has recently announced 1,500 new beds on a number of occasions, but secured no funding for them in the Budget just gone.

“The government knows that these beds are needed, and needed urgently. They must be delivered quickly. But now we have a plan for new beds with no funding. People in Longford Westmeath are being badly let down by the Government’s mismanagement of health.

“Delivery of the much-needed elective centres is far behind schedule. Urgently needed surgical hubs won’t be delivered until late next year.

“On top of this, the HSE is restricted by a recruitment embargo because of the Government’s deliberate decision to underfund the health service.

Deputy Sorca Clarke.

“Hospital managers here will be left to make best use of what they have, without the necessary supports in GP and primary care to see more patients in the community, and without sufficient step-down and rehabilitation capacity outside of hospital, such as in nursing homes, to shorten length-of-stay and speed up discharges.

“We hoped that last winter the shocking trolley crisis would be a watershed moment, and that Government would act quickly to use the year just gone to improve capacity. Action has been too slow and we are back here again, with the situation made even worse by the deliberate decision to underfund the health service. Patients in Longford Westmeath deserve better.

“A Sinn Féin government would fund the health service properly to ensure patients in Longford Westmeath get the high-quality, timely health care they need when they need it.”