21 June 2010

Local Politicians Go Head to Head in Seanad

Mary Harney and Frances Fitzgerald debate the provision of health services

Local politicians Minister Mary Harney and Senator Frances Fitzgerald came head to head in the Senate last week to debate the service being provided by the HSE.

Frances Fitzgerald, Fine Gael’s Leader in the Senate and Seanad Spokesperson on Health, said she shared with Minister Harney the vision for a quality driven service and patient centred service but went on to criticise the HSE for its failure to deliver such a service.

Senator Fitzgerald during her speech cited the recent miscarriage scandal which has upset so many women and their partners, the duration of time it took for breast cancer screening to be rolled out and the failure to roll out similar services for other common cancers as well as the HSE’s failure to protect children in care.

“We still have people from Clondalkin and Lucan and right around the country spending unacceptable lengths of time on trolleys. Minister Harney once claimed to have solved the dole queues and was now turning her attention to solving the trolley queues – well the dole queues are growing day by day and unfortunately we don’t see a huge improvement when it comes to the situation in the A&E Department of our local hospitals. In fact, 300 people are on trolleys throughout Ireland on a daily basis. 900 operations were cancelled in the first half of last year and more than 270,000 bed days were lost due to delayed discharges. We need to know what the HSE’s plan is for dealing with these shortcomings,” Frances Fitzgerald told us.

“I was recently told that child care has only been added to the agenda of the board of the HSE in recent months. If this is the case I am quite simply appalled. If something like child care services is not an agenda item for discussion by the board of the HSE, well that tells us all we need to know about why we have had the sort of problems we have seen. Child care needs to be awarded a higher priority on the HSE’s agenda if this Fianna Fail / Green Government wants to show that child protection is an issue they are going to start taking seriously ,” said Frances Fitzgerald.

“We recently learned of the failure of letters in Tallaght Hospital to be opened and acted on. I want to know that these letters have now been read and that systems are in place to deal with this situation going forward. We need to understand why this happened in the first place and how we can avoid this situation happening again in Tallaght Hospital, or any other hospital for that matter,” continued Frances Fitzgerald.

Minister Mary Harney will have the opportunity to reply to the issues raised by Senator Fitzgerald in the Senate next week.