External review into Limerick trolley crisis 'a smokescreen to hide from the real issues’

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

External review into Limerick trolley crisis 'a smokescreen to hide from the real issues’

MINISTER for Health Simon Harris has been condemned for his announcement of an independent expert review into University Hospital Limerick’s trolley crisis, which has been described as a “smokescreen to hide from the real issues”. 

On Thursday morning, Minister Harris issued an email to Mid-West members of the Oireachtas, announcing that the UL Hospitals Group and the HSE Mid-West region will undo a clinical, analytical review, which will also include an examination of emergency department activity. 

However, Labour’s health spokesperson and Tipperary TD Alan Kelly, who has been lobbying the Government on UHL’s crisis, was not issued the same email and has hit out at Minister Harris for the snub. 

The email’s subject was “Update for Mid West Oireachtas members”. 

In an interview with the Limerick Leader’s Jess Casey, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar defended the independent expert review. 

“Today I found out through the media that Minister Harris has commissioned another SDU review into the hospital services at University Hospital Limerick with some independent ‘expert’,” Deputy Kelly said in a statement this week. 

“Rather than work with representatives from across the mid-west region, Minister Harris decided that only his party faithful were to know of this review. In the spirit of ‘new politics’, I would have expected Minister Harris to have the courtesy to let other parties and health spokespeople know this review was going ahead.

“There has been well over half a dozen reviews done at this stage into the Mid-West Hospital Group, many of which are gathering dust on a shelf. It is hard not to be cynical about another review announced three weeks out from the local elections.”

He added: “It is clear that this announcement is a smokescreen to hide from the real issues that are coming to the fore in University Hospital Group.”

He argued that UHL does not need anothe report and that, instead, “need action from Minister Harrs. 

“We need him to deliver on bed capacity, improving diagnostics, increasing the number of staff at all levels, they need to widen the scope and pathways of the minor injury unity’s in Ennis and Nenagh, better utilisation of facilities in Nenagh, Ennis and St John’s, the ambulance services desperately need to be improved. The list goes on and on.”

He added that UHL does not need “another beauracratic review to tease out the issues, we know the issues, the doctors and nurses on the ground are all too aware of the issues.

“We need a Minister who will put in place a plan with real, tangible action points. This is just another example of another incompetent and out of touch action by Minister Harris.”

According to figures published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, there were 1,206 on trolleys at UHL in April.