Covid-19 has exposed "a decades-long failure" to build a public health system that has enough doctors, nurses and beds, and with the pandemic far from over, this is a situation which cannot be allowed to continue.
This is the view of Sinn Féin Galway East representative, Louis O'Hara, who secured 16.7 per cent of first preference votes at the February General Election, and who lasted until the eighth and final count.
Mr O'Hara was speaking following the launch of Sinn Féin's €1.9 billion plan to protect capacity in the health service. He said this plan will provide certainty to workers regarding employment; expand physical infrastructure through space in the community; repurpose space in acute hospitals; expanding space through modular units; and leverage at-cost capacity in the private sector.
"Pre-Covid, our health system was in crisis," said Mr O'Hara. "Now, it is under pressure on several fronts: overworked staff, Covid care, non-Covid care, catching-up on delayed care, a vast reduction in capacity, and the looming winter flu."
'We need a realistic plan to protect Ireland’s health. This is an emergency. It needs emergency response'
He pointed out that there are more than 700,000 people on waiting lists, and that this will continue to grow. "We could lose from 20 per cent to 40 per cent bed capacity. Frontline staff cannot continue to work overtime in understaffed conditions. This is not safe or fair for staff or patients."
Mr O'Hara said the State's health service was "facing a perfect storm", and that patients and healthcare workers "need our support". "We have a plan for reopening the economy, we have a plan for reopening schools," he said. "Now we need a realistic plan to protect Ireland’s health. This is an emergency; it needs emergency response."