Patients Waiting on Trolleys Hits New Record High; ... as Harney Studies Hospitals in Canada

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Byline: RONALD QUINLAN

AS 374 patients waited on trolleys in hospital A&E units yesterday, T*naiste Mary Harney was preparing to fly home in the lap of business class luxury - from a fact-finding mission to Canada.

She will arrive in Ireland this morning to a chorus of criticism from the Opposition, after it emerged that more than 300 people were languishing on trolleys every night for the last week - the highest figures ever recorded.

Yesterday's figure - the worst so far this week - was 50 per cent higher than the same day last year.

The worst affected hospitals were Tallaght with 58, Galway with 38 and St Vincent's, Dublin, with 28.

Fine Gael health spokesman Dr Liam Twomey said the Health Minister was wasting her time in Canada - as she was incapable of learning anything.

Dr Twomey said: 'I don't think she will have learned anything from the Canadian healthcare system.

She doesn't seem to be able to learn anything from the Irish healthcare system.' 'The T*naiste seems to be suffering from "Michealitis" at this point,' he said - a dig at Ms Harney's predecessor, MIche*l Martin.

'Michealitis is when you are always making promises, always looking for photo opportunities and always producing reports but do nothing with them.'

Referring to recent 'symptoms' the T*naiste had exhibited, Deputy Twomey said: 'She has made a number of announcements in the past few weeks, one as recently as yesterday in relation to cervical screening, but there is no date being set for its introduction.

'And only a few weeks ago, she promised a consultants' contract which contradicted what she had said in D*il ...ireann.' Liz McManus TD, Labour Party spokesman on health, said the T*naiste was constantly looking to pass the buck.

'This situation is simply intolerable, both for those seeking treatment and for hard-pressed staff who have to try and cope with the chaos,' she said.

'When it comes to this crisis there is no political leadership.' Liam Doran, INO general secretary, said the T*naiste, Department of Health and Health Service Executive must now accept the need for additional bed capacity.

He said the situation was worse than ever. …