Health Minister Leo Varadkar has been accused of failing to act on a litany of Government promises to address the health service crisis after being warned that “people are dying because they’re waiting on trolleys”.
He was told the only reason he is avoiding the same criticism as Dr James Reilly is because he has a better PR team, despite insisting services are improving.
Speaking during the first of a two-day Dáil debate on the system last night, Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said waiting lists are continuing to soar, with patients left years without access to the care they need.
He said Mr Varadkar has been “more hands-off than hands-on” and has simply “moved the goalposts” on waiting times to make his performance look better, noting that target waiting times for hospital treatment have doubled from nine months to 18 months under his watch.
Mr Kelleher said Mr Varadkar has become a “detached commentator” and noted that Fine Gael, prior to the 2011 election, had promised to end the scandal of hospital trolleys, prescription charges, remove the HSE, and introduce universal health insurance. These promises all failed, he said.
Mr Kelleher said “people are dying because they’re waiting on trolleys” and it is time the Government stopped “pretending” it is taking action and addressed the “carnage and chaos” facing patients.
Mr Varadkar insisted services are improving and extra money is available. He said delayed discharges from hospitals have fallen from 830 people in December to 586 last week and the number of people waiting nine hours on trolleys has fallen from 173 in February to 97 today.
He said €18m extra funding is available to tackle acute hospital problems this winter, with a further €51m planned to address ongoing waiting list difficulties.
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