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IMO: Hospital crisis cannot simply be blamed on Covid

“There is a very real likelihood that some patients will have died as a result of avoidable delays in the system in recent weeks.”

That’s according to Dr. Matthew Sadlier of the Irish Medical Organisation, as he highlighted what he called the “permanent crisis in our health services” in a statement this week.

“There is an even stronger likelihood that we will see further increased deaths and delayed diagnosis because some people who should present at our Emergency Departments in the coming weeks will not now do so because of fears of what they have recently seen,” he added.

However, the doctor stressed that it was “critical” that people understood that the current crisis cannot be blamed solely on Covid-19.

“The current emergency is not simply a temporary winter crisis or a result of a perfect storm of Covid, Flu and Respiratory illnesses,” he said.

“These are merely the proximate causes of this latest crisis. Nor is this crisis limited to Emergency Departments or Trolley numbers – these are simply a reflection of a wider problem with the health services.

“The real issue is that successive governments have accepted as “good enough” a health service which was – and is – demonstrably unfit-for-purpose; where almost a million patients are stuck on waiting lists, where vacancies exist for almost 1,000 consultant posts (which fail even to attract applicants)…”

He also said that “chaotic scenes” in Emergency Departments with hundreds of patients on trolleys had become “routine,” and hit out at politicians for “making excuses for our woefully inadequate health services.”

“Such a health service is always vulnerable to any uptick in demand caused by external factors, so it is hardly surprising that our system, which struggles on a day-to-day basis, is thrown into extraordinary levels of dysfunction as soon as challenges arise,” he said.

Sadlier said that many young medics would be likely to go abroad for work after experiencing the “war-zone like conditions” of the past number of weeks, adding: “The sad reality is that without radical action, the only certainty is that the chaos of January 2023 will recur and perhaps sooner than anyone would expect.”

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