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'Leo needs to accept he's not the David Attenborough of the health service'

Fianna Fáil says the Health Minister is “observing from a distance” rather than taking action.

Leo Varadkar and David Attenborough
Leo Varadkar and David Attenborough
Image: RollingNews.ie/PA

LEO VARADKAR HAS been compared to legendary TV naturalist David Attenborough in Fianna Fáil’s latest attack on the Health Minister for failing to get to grips with the trolley crisis.

Health spokesperson Billy Kelleher said that Varadkar needed to stop “observing from a distance” and instead take a “hands-on approach, stop the commentary and become a minister”.

“We’re just trying to ask this government to reprioritise, refocus and make some effort and for the minister to at least accept that he is a minister,” Kelleher told reporters at Leinster House today.

He’s not the David Attenborough of the Irish health services, observing from a distance while they career out of control.

Big Butterfly Count Source: John Stillwell

The Cork TD was speaking ahead of a Fianna Fáil private members’ motion in the Dáil this evening which calls on the government to ensure safe, adequate and consistently available staffing levels for all emergency departments.

It also wants the health service to recruit designated staff to look after patients on trolleys and ensure patients spend six hours or less in emergency departments.

“All the empirical evidence shows that is the maximum amount of time somebody should be on a trolley… six hours is the benchmark and I think it’s something that is not beyond our ability at this stage to try and address,” Kelleher claimed.

Varadkar has come under renewed scrutiny in the past week after a series of health controversies, including a 91-year-old man being left on a trolley for 29 hours in Tallaght Hospital.

screenshot.1447161477.85689 Source: www.thejournal.ie

While on Friday, Fianna Fáil slammed Varadkar’s suggestion that underperforming public hospitals could be temporarily placed under the control of private companies as “what you’d expect from the Tea Party”.

Kelleher said people are dying because of the time spent on trolleys:

The fact of the matter is people are dying simply because they are waiting inordinate amounts of time on our emergency department trolleys throughout the country.

He said that Varadkar was “consistently trying to spin” that things are improving when there has been month-on-month increases in the number of people spending inordinate periods of time on trolleys.

Varadkar has taken a dim view of Fianna Fáil’s criticism.

Last week he pointed out that the party wants to retain the Health Service Executive and “merely pump more money into a system they created which is not working”.

“It’s the same old Fianna Fáil,” the Fine Gael TD said last week.

Speaking yesterday, Varadkar said that it was not just a case of additional resources ensuring better outcomes for patients, saying evidence shows that more money did not necessarily translate into service improvements.

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Hugh O'Connell

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