Patients have lashed out at a publicity stunt by the coalition governement after being treated like “guinea pigs” to mask the failures in the 26 County health system.
They were moved from a corridor into beds in a gleaming new hospital ward - and then put straight back on trolleys and back into a waiting area when the Health Minister left.
There was a lot of hype on Friday when Leo Varadkar made a guest appearance to open 24 new beds at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, County Louth.
“People were made to believe they had a bed. When you are moved from A&E and into a bed, you presume that’s where you’ll stay. It’s absolutely shocking,” one staff member was reported as saying.
“They were only in the ward for a few hours while Mr Varadkar was visiting the hospital, then they were moved almost immediately after he left, like guinea pigs.”
Among those moved was an 87-year-old pensioner.
“When you’re moved to a bed at least it’s some comfort, well as much as you can have in hospital.
“But then you’re moved back to a trolley in A&E where it’s wall-to-wall with trolleys, sometimes two to a cubicle.
“After he was there Minister Vardkar visited a place called Dignity 4 Patients, which is a joke - when has he ever treated patients with dignity?
It is understood the stunt was intended to deflect from news that a plan to implement universal health insurance (UHI) has been quietly abandoned -- after 700,000 euro of public money was spent on a series of reports.
The Universal Health Insurance scheme had been one element of Fine Gael’s pre-election ‘Five Point Plan’ in 2011.
Speaking in the Dail, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams told the Taoiseach Enda Kenny that his government’s health policy was a “shambles”.
“The fact is that this government is responsible for a health service in complete chaos.
“Sinn Fein warned that the government’s plans for health would not work. So did other parties - so too did independent health experts. But the government refused to listen.
“On Tuesday evening the Minister for Health finally admitted that the government has no concrete plan for health. It has, he said, a “vision” but has no means to implement it.
“Citizens lying on hospital trolleys don’t need “a vision”, they need a solution. The Minister asserts that Universal Health Insurance remains the Government’s preferred model. This is clearly because of Fine Gael’s ideological position which favours the interests of private health insurance companies over the interests of patients and their families. This is a for profit position.
“The Health Minister insists that he is merely shelving this proposition. But then admits that it won’t happen in the next term but might just happen in the term after that. So citizens will have had to wait over a decade for Fine Gael and Labour’s vision to become a reality - if indeed it does.
“Fine Gael’s five point plan was actually a five point sham, and the truth is that the government has no plan, no solutions and now it doesn’t even have the pretence of a policy on Health.
“The government has failed and failed completely on this crucial policy matter. It should resign.”