In 1983, a report in this paper revealed that the “disastrous” situation caused by overcrowding at St Luke’s Hospital was highlighted at a meeting of trade unionists.
The meeting was told that St Luke’s continually carried 50 beds more than it was built for. A new extension was going to relieve overcrowding but was not going to defeat it, delegates heard.
Over thirty years on and the situation is no better. Government after government, health minister after health minister, and the problem remains the same.
Successive long-term plans are announced almost every year for bettering the health service. But at this stage, ambition rings hollow.
People are left wondering when the government and the HSE will stop talking about what they’re going to do and actually implement real changes that won’t have us talking about the beds crisis every January.
It’s inconceivable the overcrowding in St Luke’s Hospital just yesterday, is an insurmountable problem. It’s unacceptable that patients - both young and old - should be on trolleys in the corridors of a health facility.
New extensions are built and yet the problem remains - which makes it hard for the public to fathom how this perennial beds issue is not yet solved.
How is the country’s health service so inadequate - given that it receives billions of euro for its budget every year? It’s hard for people to see a return on that investment.
Throwing taxpayer’s money at the problem hasn’t fixed it. In truth, it would appear no one in government knows how to solve the health crisis - whether it’s a beds shortage or waiting lists. Ultimately, we’ve never been ahead of the health needs of our population.
There was no foresight ten years ago and everything we do now is reactionary. We’re going to be chasing it for the next ten years.
The onus is on government and HSE management to set the wheels in motion, today, for the beds shortage to be remedied and long-lasting solutions put in place. If not for next year, then at least for some time down the road.
So that then, the everlasting problem of overcrowding in the health service is put to bed once and for all.