Long-term planning needed to ensure full potential of staff is utilised, says Cork TD

Long-term planning needed to ensure full potential of staff is utilised, says Cork TD

The report found reoccurring issues including poor physical infrastructure, capacity issues and workforce challenges, with HIQA focusing its healthcare monitoring resources on known areas of risk such as infection prevention and control, governance and risk management, and medication safety.

TDs in Cork have called for capital investment in a health service that they say currently does not get the best value out of the qualifications of the people it employs.

It comes following the publication of the Health Information and Quality Authority’s (HIQA) overview report of the monitoring and regulation of healthcare services in 2020 which saw underlying issues of concern relating to non-compliance with national standards.

The report found reoccurring issues including poor physical infrastructure, capacity issues and workforce challenges, with HIQA focusing its healthcare monitoring resources on known areas of risk such as infection prevention and control, governance and risk management, and medication safety.

Fine Gael’s spokesperson for health Colm Burke said that the report highlights the need for those within the health service with particular qualifications to use those specific skills and that there are many nurses and doctors alike “doing work that they should be doing”.

Fine Gael TD Colm Burke wearing a facemask at Leinster House on Kildare Street, Dublin. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins
Fine Gael TD Colm Burke wearing a facemask at Leinster House on Kildare Street, Dublin. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

Speaking to The Echo, Cork North Central TD said that while nurses and doctors reacted very well to the pandemic, there were challenges in areas where there were cutbacks of services and staff were not utilised to their full potential.

“There’s an issue in relation to the way we have compartmentalised people into particular categories. We have general doctors doing work that they should be doing. Nurses have academic qualifications but have we given them a huge amount of additional roles? Simple things like dressing beds and stuff like that, why aren’t we allowing more care assistants on the wards so nurses can be used for medical care?” 

Deputy Burke said that there is a need for a review on how to get the best value out of those with particular qualifications. He said that long-term planning is needed and that “what Sláintecare is talking about doing is not going to work”.

“Offering a contract to consultants of €250,000 a year who are required to work 37 hours a week, that’s it, you can’t do any more work outside of that and I think it will be a huge waste of resources,” he said.

Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould called for major capital investment in the health service, making reference to the high numbers of people on trolleys in CUH which he said are “spiralling out of control”.

Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

“The announcement of only €250,000 to progress the much needed elective hospital in Cork was a major blow for staff working in overcrowded, underfunded facilities. It shows the government’s reluctance to make the real innovative changes we need to increase capacity.

"Year on year, we hear problems of overcrowding and spiralling waiting lists because of a lack of capacity. The health service is working with major infrastructure deficits, and workforce issues continue to present difficulties.

"Healthcare workers and patients suffer because of these failings, which the report identifies as 'recurring issues' which have 'not changed'” he said.

President of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) Dr Ina Kelly said that the report would be a damning indictment in normal times and that it highlights a crisis in medical manpower in a health service that is operating at dangerous levels of capacity. 

“This is not something we can or should accept and as Government now considers measures for the budget, we need to see a significant ramping up of sustainable investment in our services that will deliver timely patient care in a system that is well resourced and properly staffed,” she said.

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