Varadkar 'sick to death' of hospital overcrowding crisis

Varadkar 'sick to death' of hospital overcrowding crisis

The Health Minister Leo Varadkar has said he is "sick to death" of the crisis of hundreds of people on trolleys in hospitals.

Mr Varadkar has spoken for the first time after returning from holidays and has called for "all hands on deck" as he warned the problem will probably get worse in the next two weeks.

Speaking on national radio this evening, Mr Varadkar said he took a holiday to visit family in Florida because he didn't get a break over Christmas because of the right-to-die case in the courts.

However, he said it was not easy manage this emergency over the phone and Skype and he was keen to come home, adding that he is "sick to death" of the problem of people on trolleys.

He said immediate action is being taken - including surgery being cancelled, the opening of beds in wards in some hospitals and getting people out of hospitals and into nursing homes.

The Health Minister has admitted that the emergency taskforce established to deal with hospital overcrowding has not met since before Christmas.

Mr Varadkar said the situation is "not acceptable" and confirmed that non-emergency surgeries are now being cancelled to help alleviate the crisis.

The minister said he is going to "double-down" the efforts to combat overcrowding but he won't promise anything.

Minister Varadkar said we now need "all hands on deck" and wants managers to engage with community care providers.

But he has warned that the crisis will probably be worse in the coming two weeks with a junior doctor roster changeover and the possibility of a flu outbreak.

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