[Sinn Fein]

12th May 2003

Another hospital stricken by crisis

Who is in charge, Minister - Ó Caoláin

Commenting on the threatened closure of the A&E Department of Wexford General Hospital next Monday and the withdrawal of on-call services by ambulance crews in that County, Sinn Fein Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has challenged the Minister for Health to say who is in charge.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

The imminent closure of A&E at Wexford comes within a week of the announced closure of a 25-bed unit at Crumlin Children's Hospital and the loss of 250 beds in the five main Dublin hospitals. This is while the public health doctors' dispute is escalating.

The Minister for Health Mícheál Martin must be asked who is in charge. The Wexford situation is a classic example of the decision-making paralysis in the health services. The all-powerful Medical Council is preventing the Hospital from appointing two junior doctors, even though this will lead directly to the closure of the A&E unit. Gross understaffing in the ambulance service has forced workers to withdraw on-call services.

The Government is at loggerheads with the public health doctors, ambulance crews are working inhuman hours and are forced into a dispute and doctors cannot be appointed quickly to deal with accidents and emergencies. This is a shambles and the Minister and his Government colleagues are directly responsible.

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