Galway staff shortages hitting people’s health, Grealish tells Dáil

A growing shortage of staff is making it increasingly difficult for people in Galway to get the health care they need, Independent TD Noel Grealish told the Dáil this week.

He told the Taoiseach that he was being contacted on a regular basis by people in his Galway West constituency about difficulties they were experiencing in accessing health services and this was having an adverse effect on their health.

“These difficulties exist across a wide range of services, including home help, services for children with disabilities, respite services, nursing staff and even down to a shortage of administration staff to type letters, which results in delayed or inaccurate treatment of patients with neurological diseases.

“On making further inquiries with relevant authorities, I am informed these delays are a result of staff shortages. The problem is coupled with nurses and doctors leaving the health service and emigrating for better contracts and working conditions abroad.”

Deputy Grealish said it was clear there was a serious problem across community care and acute health services, and these staff shortages were adding to chronic waiting lists.

“We also have a problem with dentists leaving the medical card scheme and a possible shortage of GPs in the coming years.

“What is the Government doing to address the chronic issues of staff recruitment and retention across our health services? When are we likely to see an improvement?” he asked.

In reply, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar agreed that the recruitment and retention of healthcare workers was a real problem.

But he insisted that there was no lack of money or political will when it came to improving our health services, which now had an annual budget of €22 billion, compared to €14 billion when he was Minister for Health.

“But there are other restraints, one of which is the ability to train, recruit and retain an adequate number of healthcare staff. This is by no means unique to Ireland; it is an international phenomenon,” he said.

He added: “It is a tough battle but one we are winning. I say that because there are nearly 20,000 more staff in our health service than there were two and a half years ago, including nearly 6,000 more nurses and midwives and nearly 2,000 more doctors and dentists.”


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