Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo, Lisa Chambers, has described as cruel and inhumane the conditions patients and staff are dealing with in the Emergency Department at Mayo University Hospital.
She said this week in a statement: "The overcrowding in emergency departments across the country is entirely predictable every year and yet the government continue to blame the flu for the record numbers of patients on trolleys. We have an annual flu season, we know every year that demand increases during the winter months, yet we consistently fail to prepare and the government act surprised when it happens.
"We have been waiting eight years for a modular unit to extend the emergency department at Mayo University Hospital and recent information given to me by the HSE revealed we have not even commenced the planning process.
"The best we can hope for this year is to get some money to get drawings done. It is unbelievable and utterly indefensible that we still haven't started the process after eight years. We extended the waiting room for the emergency department but didn't extend the emergency department itself, so we simply provided more chairs for people to wait longer.
"The hospitals are operating at 94 per cent capacity before the flu season begins. We have fewer staff nurses and 300 fewer beds than a decade ago; despite a growing and ageing population. If we compare ourselves to Scotland, they have double the number of beds and specialist consultants than we have, so we are a long way off from where we need to be.
"On Monday there were 22 patients on trolleys at Mayo University Hospital and today we have a slight improvement with 14 patents on trolleys, still a very high figure. Worryingly this figure does not include those patients who are waiting on chairs and haven't been given a trolley yet.
"Staff are at breaking point and the health service is running on the goodwill of nurses, heath care staff and doctors who go over and above their duties. Without extra beds and more nurses we will never get on top of this problem.
"We are a first world country with a health service that sometimes resembles third world. Patients and elderly people deserve better and the Minister for Health needs to address this crisis rather than pretend it is not happening. He can start with lifting the recruitment freeze and hiring more nurses."