The Clinical Medical Director at Cork University Hospital says it is inconceivable to think that health care staff would be granted extended leave over the Christmas period.
Dr Mike O’Connor was speaking on RTE radio following comments from the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, who called on the Health Service Executive to “properly manage and deploy” resources in the health service over the Christmas period.
Dr O’Connor said it was “bordering on disingenuous and insulting” to HSE staff to suggest that significant numbers take extended leave over this period.
He estimated that less than 10% of hospital consultants will be on leave in January.
Mr Varadkar came under criticism after he said that hospital consultants, nurses and other medical professionals should not be on extended leave over Christmas and the first two weeks of January to ensure that every hospital bed is open.
Christmas Day 2017#proudoftheirsmiles#letsdoagoodjob#privelegetohavecolleagueslikethis@CUH_Cork @PeopleofHSE @Damianmcgov @AinemCarroll @VivForde @NMPDUCorkKerry @CcoHse @BroadbankCarole @brosnansinead1 @BrianwDolan @brendanoreillyp pic.twitter.com/DsXtyG5MzX
— Mike O’ Connor (@mikecuh) November 7, 2018
Dr O’Connor agreed with the Taoiseach that things could be “a little more intense” over the Christmas period but said it was “not much different from the rest of the year”.
He added that staff knew what to expect from this period and that they were primed for it.
He said the winter plan had a number of key issues, such as maximising the number of key decision-makers available on-call and on-site at all times, as well as maximising discharges.
Dr O’Connor said many patients would leave hospital over this period because they wanted to be at home.
He said it was “bogus” to talk about winter pressures because hospitals were under pressure all year round and there was no collective, collaborative plan to resolve the trolley issue.
Dr O’Connor said 40,000 people would spend more than 24 hours on a trolley this year and 12,000 of these patients would be over 75.