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Leo Varadkar is being accused of leaking his own email

Fianna Fáil says that an email in the Irish Times came about because of ‘self-serving leaks’.

Updated 4.45pm

FIANNA FÁIL IS accusing of Health Minister Leo Varadkar of being behind the leaking of an email to a national newspaper in which he says “heads will have to roll” because of patients waiting on trolleys.

An extract from a three-week-old internal email was published in today’s Irish Times in which Varadkar expressed worry about patients waiting on trolleys.

“I have no reason to believe it won’t be worse than last year and that really means a head or heads will have to roll,” the minister is reported to have said to a health officials.

The latest Trolley Watch report from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said that there was a total of 385 patients waiting on trolleys across the country yesterday.

The group says highest number this month was last Tuesday when there were 433 people on trolleys.

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Fianna Fáil appear to be pinning the blame for the leak on the minister himself, describing it as “self-serving” and “well-targeted”.

“No doubt people are expected to be impressed by the minister’s candour and plain talking,” said the party’s health spokesperson Billy Kelleher TD.

“No doubt that is why the “internal email” was provided to a national newspaper. Mr Varadkar’s heavy handed PR strategy is unlikely to convince many.”

Late last year an ED Taskforce was convened by the Department of Health to attempt to address the problems of overcrowding in the country’s emergency department.

Its report was published in April but the National Association of GPs has said that the taskforce has done nothing to help the crisis.

“ED overcrowding has been a constant difficulty in the operation of the health services,” the group said in a statement.

The initiatives introduced in January have had little impact on trolley numbers and are further evidence that focusing efforts on secondary care and discharge measures have not and will not resolve the problem.

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Kelleher has now claimed that the minister was aware the nothing had improved by the summer but failed to do any thing:

“Department of Health files released to Fianna Fáil under Freedom of Information indicate that nearly three months after the ED Taskforce report was published by Minister Varadkar, there was no implementation plan in place for it.”

But the department has said that Fianna Fáil’s timings are a little off and that a group was set up over the summer to implement the ED Taskforce’s recommendations.

“The Implementation Group first convened in June, July and September and will continue to meet regularly,” a statement from the department said this afternoon.

The department adds that the group is “fully-funded” and will now be co-chaired by HSE director general Tony O’Brien who will seek to ensure that resources are used to their full effect in the winter months.  

Read: ‘Strong possibility’ of strike action after cancer patient left on trolley for five days >

Read: Dublin hospital has highest number of patients on trolleys >

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Rónán Duffy

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