TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has directly called on the HSE not to sanction additional holidays for doctors and nurses over Christmas.
Despite criticism from medical unions, the Taoiseach has today gone further in his demands for changes to way hospital operate their Christmas rosters.
And he said while people might “misrepresent” his comments, he “speaks the truth”.
“The situation is as simple as this: Every business, every industry, every service has a peak period of demand.
“If you’re working retail it’s the week running up to Christmas. If you’re in education, it’s the first week or two of September. If you’re in politics, it’s budget week and the few weeks around the budget. If you’re in tourism, it’s the summer period and bank holidays.
“And it makes sense if your service or your business well to always make sure that you match peak demand with peak resources,” Mr Varadkar.
Replying to questions from Independent.ie in Finland, the Taoiseach said views he initially expressed in the Dáil yesterday “shouldn’t be controversial comments”.
“No bed should be closed because people are on leave. The emergency department and medical consultants should be there. The surgeons can take their holidays during that period because operations get cancelled anyway.
“So, it’s a question of meeting peak demand with peak resources. That’s the norm across industries. It’s the norm across services. It should be the norm in the health service as well,” he said.
Asked whether he intended to issue a direction to the HSE in order to back up his words, Mr Varadkar said: “I wish I had the authority to do that. This is one of the biggest difficulties we have in our health service. Politicians and government have certain responsibilities but ultimately under law the health service is run by the HSE.
“What I’m saying to the HSE is what I think should be done.”
He said the Irish people should know that the HSE has record financial resources, 1,500 more nurses than two years ago, more emergency department consultants and 250 additional beds than last year.
“So, it should be obvious to everyone more money, more staff and more beds on their own won’t work. We need to properly manage and deploy those resources when they are most needed. That’s what I’m saying to the HSE,” Mr Varadkar said.
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