Chaos at CHU highlights need for reform

26 Aibreán 2017

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has said reports of “chaos” in Cork University Hospital on Monday night/Tuesday morning are the consequences of the government’s failure to address staffing shortages and working conditions.

The Ireland South MEP was responding to numerous reports on social media that staff at CUH were “at breaking point” as waiting rooms were filled past capacity and people faced waits of up to 14 hours.

“While the scenes reported on social media are indeed appalling they should not shock us; our health service has been in a perpetual state of chaos for generations,” she said.

“And before saying anything else on this issue I would like to commend the tireless efforts of staff in Cork University Hospital, and indeed hospitals across the country, in dealing with the outrageous demands put on them by a failed system.

“Despite every expert warning us that the only way to address these problems is to invest in front line services the government continues to ignore the problem, kicking it down the road, hoping to distract people with endless talk of committees and reviews.

“The government also continues to ignore the fact that our understaffing issues are linked inextricably to working conditions.

“A survey released just this week revealed that 78% of nurses qualifying this year are planning to work abroad. However, the same survey also found that 79% would consider staying if they were offered guaranteed permanent contracts.

“This is a problem but the nurses themselves are telling us it is a solvable one.

“If the government will face up to the mess they have created and address issues of pay restoration, staffing levels, working hours and workloads then we can see the end of scenes such as those in Cork this week.

“On Monday our Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly launched our proposals for Comhliosta – an integrated hospital waiting list management system. In it she outlines our priorities in government which would include a €3.3bn increase in spending on healthcare, to move away from a failing, two tier health system to universal healthcare and the recruitment of 6,600 additional frontline health workers including nurses, midwives and consultants.

“There is no quick fix to the healthcare crisis but given the scenes in Cork this week, which are typical of scenes we see in hospitals across the country, the question is not if we can afford to change, but if we can afford not to.”

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