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A hospital consultant in Co Tipperary has claimed the HSE and Department of Health is following Stalinist centrist policies instead of trying to resolve the specific issues faced by different hospitals.
Prof Paud O’Regan, a consultant based at South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel, described the situation in the hospital yesterday as “chaotic and catastrophic”.
He said the situation was difficult for patients and impossible for staff to work safely in because of the level of overcrowding at the hospital.
“They [HSE and department] act as if each hospital has the same problems. That is not the case. Each hospital deserves a separate solution. They are using Stalinist, centralist decision making.”
When asked about the “patient hotel” announced last August for the hospital in Clonmel, Mr O’Regan said progress on this development had been caught in red tape.
The HSE sanctioned a 40-bed modularunit to relieve overcrowding at the adjacent hospital by accommodating suitable patients awaiting or recovering from procedures.
“We could be waiting another year. They still have not got the site prepared. It is going to take years to complete something that should have been done in weeks or months as hoped,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
“It is likely to be another winter before it is in place.”
Mr O’Regan expects the situation is going to get worse and said a general lack of beds will mean that standards have fallen below a level at which the service can operate in a rational way.
The cancellation of elective procedures was a disgraceful waste of time, money, staff and resources he added.
On Tuesday figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation showed the trolley crisis has eased slightly, with 506 patients waiting in hospital emergency departments for admission to a bed.
The HSE, which performs its own count, says trolley numbers are 10 per cent lower than on the equivalent day last year.
There were 375 patients on trolleys and a further 131 patients waiting in wards for admission to a bed on Tuesday morning, according to the INMO. This was up on Monday but lower than the same time last week, when numbers hit a record 612 people waiting for admission.
The slight reduction in trolley numbers is probably the result of the opening up of beds.
Separately Minister for Health Simon Harris on Monday welcomed the first significant fall in public hospital waiting lists for two years but warned that emergency departments are going to remain under pressure for weeks.
The fall, to 536,000 patients waiting for inpatient treatment or outpatient appointments, is only 2,000 down on the previous month, but the latest figures from the National Purchase Treatment Fund appear to show that increased investment is beginning to have an impact on waiting times.
The number of patients waiting longer than a year for treatment or an appointment is also down, while long waits for gastrointestinal tests have been virtually eliminated.
The figures will come as a relief to the Minister, who has been under intense pressure over the past week due to record numbers of patients on trolleys in hospital emergency departments.