By Claire Corrigan
HEALTH Minister Simon Harris said this week that breaking “the overcrowding cycle” at hospitals would “require significant steps” when he paid a visit on Monday morning, 20 February, to Mullingar Regional Hospital.
He also admitted that they do not have enough beds in the health service and spoke about recruitment and retention of staff.
“If we’re serious about breaking the cycle, we’re going to have to take significant steps. First we need to look at bed capacity.
“If I was the Minister for Education and was telling you we hadn’t built a new school since 1998, you wouldn’t be surprised that there are many children without school places.
“A bed capacity review is now under way that will enable me to have a very clear ask of Government for additional capital funds when we have the capital review this summer.”
He said the second issue was the recruitment and retention of staff and said industrial action was the last thing they needed. “We have lost many nurses and other healthcare professionals during the years of the recession. My Department is still engaged in talks with nurses’ representative organisations and I do hope that can yield a good outcome. The last thing our healthcare system needs is industrial action. We need to find a way forward to increase nursing numbers in the health service.”
He also said that GPs are working off a contract that is 44 years old, so the Department has started negotiations with GP organisations to see what additional services they could provide, “so instead of having to come to the local hospital, you could go to see the doctor.”