Hospital consultants take on Simon Harris in Wicklow with hard hitting ads ahead of election
The Irish Hospitals Consultants Association (IHCA) have taken out full and half page advertisements in all local newspapers in County Wicklow targeting the health service and Minister Simon Harris ahead of the General Election on Februay 8.
When contacted, the IHCA said that the #CareCan’tWait campaign is being run nationwide and that the ads are appearing in both national and local newspapers throughout the country.
However in Wicklow, the home constituency of Mr Harris, the IHCA is running the ads in all local newspapers in the county – Wicklow Voice, Wicklow Times, Bray People and Wicklow People for the two weeks ahead of the poll.
The hard-hitting ads show a picture of what appears to be a morgue with three trolleys beside the words ‘Government Inaction Is Bad For Your Health’.
Below that in very large type it says ‘118,367 Patients treated on trolleys in 2019’ and ‘1,000,000 people on waiting lists’.
A separate 1200-word press release from the IHCA says that at recent face-to-face talks with Minister Harris it appealed to him to:
• Immediately address bed and consultant shortages;
• A commitment to open 800 public hospital beds within two years and fast-track an additional 2,600 hospital beds by end 2025;
• Commit to and resource a maximum waiting time of four hours at Emergency Departments to be admitted to an inpatient bed if needed, discharged home or transferred to an appropriate service;
• Commit to and resource a maximum waiting time of 18 weeks following a GP referral for a consultant outpatient appointment and for inpatient/day-case public hospital treatment;
• End failed Government policy of consultant pay discrimination that has caused 500 unfilled permanent consultant posts and added to the misery of one million people waiting for treatment and hundreds languishing on trolleys
The Wicklow constituency is also the home of Fianna Fail Health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly.
The publishing of the ads is being seen locally as a direct attack on Minister Harris, with one Fine Gael activist saying “it hasn’t gone down well at all.”
When contacted by WicklowNow.ie, Minister Harris’s office replied with the following statement: “Minister Harris acknowledges the very high trolley numbers recently and wants to sincerely thank all the staff working in our health service for their efforts during what is a very busy period. Thanks to their Herculean efforts, trolleys numbers have fallen throughout the month of January.
“Minister Harris wants to increase capacity in the Irish health service. This year, we will open over 100 beds but we know it is not enough. We have a plan to increase capacity and open 2,600 more beds over the coming years.
“We want to hire more doctors. Under the Slaintecare plans, we want to transform the way our health service is run. Minister Harris does not believe it is fair that consultants can engage in private work in our public hospitals. This is why from mid-2020, we will begin the process of hiring 1,000 new consultants on public only contracts. This will begin to end the two-tier health system.
“Minister Harris acknowledges the frustration many people feel regarding the difficulties in our health service. But we now have a plan to fix it. A plan that has the support of our doctors, nurses and all political parties. Minister Harris encourages people to stick with the plan as it will transform health services in this country – for the staff and crucially for the patient.”