[Sinn Fein]

14th January 2003

``Government response deplorable in A and E crisis'' - Ó Caoláin

Sinn Fein Health spokesperson Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin has said that there is no-one in government in charge as the State experiences yet another crisis in hospital Accident and Emergency departments. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``The response of the Minister for Health and Children Micheál Martin to the latest crisis in A and E is deplorable. As patients are treated in ambulances in the car parks of Dublin hospitals, and as people wait for hours overnight for treatment in A and E departments, all the Minister can do is repeat figures for the amount of money spent on the health services. It is glaringly obvious to all that the resourcing of the services is both insufficient and ill-deployed and is not having the desired effect where it matters most ? at the front line where people need treatment.

``I understand from my colleague Sinn Fein councillors in Dublin that some 30 people were left waiting for treatment overnight until this morning in the Mater Hospital A and E department. The Minister should order the Health Board to take over beds in the adjacent Mater Private Hospital to relieve the current crisis.

``The Dáil should be recalled to address the worsening situation in our health services. All TDs were elected last May with a mandate to urgently address the crisis in health yet the Dáil does not return until 29 January and there is no-one in Government on top of the situation. The Taoiseach is in Mexico and the other most senior Dublin-based Minister, the Tánaiste Mary Harney, has remained silent.

``The Minister for Health must also answer to the Dáil on the recently highlighted changes in medical training rules for A and E units which could lead to closure or severe reduction of services in hospitals outside Dublin, thus putting more intolerable pressure on the system. Having highlighted and campaigned against the effective withdrawal of A and E services at Monaghan General Hospital over the six months since July 2nd 2002, I am concerned that once again unaccountable influences are dictating the configuration of services within our hospitals throughout the State.

``This latest crisis once more demonstrates the need to completely restructure our grossly unequal, two-tier, public-private health service.''

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