Simon Harris at war with officials as "worse than ever & # 39; trolley crisis looms


Health Minister Simon Harris and former HSE chief Tony O'Brien. Photo: Tom Burke
Health Minister Simon Harris and former HSE chief Tony O'Brien. Photo: Tom Burke

Philip Ryan

A serious collapse in confidence between Health Minister Simon Harris and his staff is threatening the morale and planning of health services as the country faces the worst hospital trams crisis ever recorded.

Top officials at the Health Department are furious that the minister did not support civil servants during the CervicalCheck scandal.

A well-placed source said there was a "total lack of confidence" among senior health officials and Harris because of the cancer controversy. Another source said the level of mistrust between the minister and some of his officials was "fairly palpable."

The collapse in relationships at the heart of health care occurs when experienced medical professionals warn that the country is completely unprepared for what is defined as the worst hospital trams crisis since records began.

In a blunt indictment of the minister dealing with the crisis, the Secretary-General of Nurse and Midwives of Ireland, Phil Ni Sheaghdha, said he expects shocking 100,000 people to have been abandoned in hospital strollers by the end of the year.

"These people are in a stroller at 8am in the morning because there is no bed available for them and we know that many are in strollers for 24 hours or more," Ni Sheaghdha told the Sunday Independent.

Separately, the president of the Irish Medical Organization, Dr. Peadar Gilligan, said there was "more reactive planning than strategic planning" to deal with the growing problem of hospital overcrowding.

"There can be nothing more urgent than having a situation where a patient in need of emergency hospitalization has to wait 24 hours for a bed and that is the national reality," Gilligan said.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail's health spokesman, Stephen Donnelly, said he believed "the government has lost control of the health care system."

"There is a real concern that the health service has reached an inflection point where a combination of shortage of doctors, spiral waiting lists, hospital overcrowding and many other factors are being combined to create a perfect storm," he added. Donnelly.

Last week, the health service was at the center of the review of the trust and supply agreement that sets the terms for Fianna Fail to facilitate the minority government led by Fine Gael.

The worrying health crisis comes as the Sunday Independent became aware of a collapse in confidence between Harris and his staff over the treatment of the CervicalCheck scandal.

The minister severely criticized the SSMA and Health Department officials involved in the crisis that led to the resignation of HSE director Tony O'Brien.

Senior officials are furious with the minister's refusal to express confidence in the chief medical officer of the Department of Health, Dr. Tony Holohan, during the controversy.

Harris also publicly said he lacked confidence in CervicalCheck's clinical director, Grainne Flannelly, before being forced to resign for his treatment of the service.

The minister is also known to have personally rebuked the authorities because of the lack of information they provided when the crisis first emerged.

One source said: "The minister will not receive Christmas cards from some of his top authorities this year.

"At HSE they are accustomed to being bullied, but they are not accustomed to it at the Department of Health," the source added.

The internal consequences of the cancer scandal have also delayed preparations for hospital overcrowding in hospitals, according to Dr. Gilligan.

"We have not heard much from the Emergency Department work group this year, as we did in previous years, despite the fact that we had the worst October we've ever had in trolley counts," he said.

Dr. Gilligan said the additional $ 10 million budgeted for the winter cart crisis was "relatively small," given the scale of the problem in the country's hospitals.

"Bizarrely, we have fewer beds now than there were 10 or 15 years in the acute hospital system, despite a 6% increase in population. It's very worrying for us in health services, "he said.

"There is no level of intention that Irish patients and doctors in Ireland need to see around this problem.

"Just as we are building enough houses or apartments for the population in a timely manner, we do not have enough beds," he added.

A spokesman for the minister did not address the breach of trust between Mr. Harris and his employees, but highlighted the actions he took in the CervicalCheck crisis.

"Winter, every two years, will be a challenge for health care, but HSE is implementing the necessary plans, aided by the additional resources.

"Waiting lists for hospital operations and procedures are also falling every month, with this trend expected to continue and further improve as a result of additional budgetary resources," he added.

Independent Sunday


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