Mattie McGrath wants the Health Minister to cancel his St Patrick’s Day trip to deal with hospital crisis

By Conor Kane

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to “reassess his priorities” and reconsider his visit to The Netherlands and Belgium for St Patrick’s Day.

Mr McGrath said these are “far from normal times” with the number of patients on trolleys in Irish hospitals reaching 714.

“I think it is grossly irresponsible for Minister Harris to be out of the country at a time when almost every major local and regional hospital is in the grip of capacity crisis with respect to patients on trolleys,” he said.

“Unless he is going off to learn how The Netherlands achieved number one status on the Euro Health Consumer Index in 2015, or how it has managed to be listed in the top three European countries since 2005 in terms of health economics, then he is clearly failing in his sense of priorities.”

The TD for Tipperary said that, in normal times, it is “perfectly reasonable” for Government Ministers to fly the Irish flag abroad for the St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Mr McGrath said: “However, these are far from normal times. We have chronic and systemic problems right across the board and we also now face an unprecedented revolt by GPs to a central plank of the minister’s policy with respect to abortion provision.

"If he gave even a fraction of the passion that he has for pushing abortion to reducing the trolley crisis or addressing the deficits in Home Care Packages then we might actually get somewhere.

“As it is, the Minister has spent the vast majority of this parliamentary session focusing entirely on the passing of a referendum bill which will place unquantifiable strains on an already creaking healthcare system. The Minister must therefore immediately reassess his priorities and act accordingly.”

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