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Hospital consultants vote no confidence in Health Minister Simon Harris

The vote was unanimously passed by the council of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association.

Health Minister Simon Harris is under pressure from consultants to take action.
Health Minister Simon Harris is under pressure from consultants to take action.

HOSPITAL CONSULTANTS HAVE taken a vote of no confidence in Health Minister Simon Harris following an emergency meeting last night. 

The vote was unanimously passed by the council of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association at the meeting called to address what it describes as “deteriorating conditions across our acute hospitals and the detrimental impact this is having”. 

The no confidence vote in Harris is “an indication of the extent to which consultants have lost faith in the ability of Minister Harris to provide timely, quality hospital care or to improve conditions for patients,” it said. 

The IHCA launched the Care Can’t Wait campaign earlier this year in a bid to highlight the growing number of people waiting long periods for outpatient appointments through the HSE. 

It described the impact of these waiting lists as “brain drain” on consultants working in Irish hospitals. 

ICHA president, Dr Donal OHanlon said: “Hospital consultants across our acute public hospitals no longer have confidence in Minister Harris.

“We do not believe that he has the authority, understanding, inclination or experience to deliver timely, quality hospital care for patients. He has become increasingly complacent and deaf to the suffering of patients across Ireland.

“After three years in the office, Minister Harris has presided over an unacceptable increase of 153,914 patients on the outpatient waiting list since he became Minister for Health. This amounts to a 37% increase or almost five additional patients every hour.”

Following the meeting, the IHCA said it was escalating the Care Can’t Wait campaign and intensifying activities in the coming weeks. 

A spokesperson for Harris said: “The Minister looks forward to his Department meeting with the Irish Medical Organisation to discuss issues of recruitment and retention of consultants this week.

“As the Minister has already stated, he looks forward to engaging with the IHCA in due course.”


Meanwhile, the Irish Nurse and Midwives Organisation has reasserted its calls for the minister to step up his handling of the numbers of people waiting on hospital trolleys after it claimed overcrowding at University Hospital Limerick was “beyond breaking point“. 

Figures from the INMO on Wednesday showed there were 47 patients without beds in UHL’s emergency department, with 35 in wards elsewhere in the hospital – the highest-ever trolley figure in an Irish hospital.

Last month, Limerick had over 1,400 patients without beds.

On Tuesday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also apologised to patients and staff affected by the rise in trolley numbers.

“I apologise to the patients and staff affected and also their loved ones, who deserve much better than to have to wait for a hospital bed,” he said. 

That same day there were 610 people on trolleys while the month of September saw a total of 10,641 patients, according to the INMO.

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