It is my duty as an opposition spokesperson to raise the issue of health services and the dire straits in which the services being provided across the country or not being provided are. We now have a situation where community, hospital, primary care and mental health care services across the country are simply not able to cope with the demand. Some 7,781 admitted patients were on trolleys in the month of August alone. That is up 27%. There were over 440 people on trolleys in our emergency departments yesterday, admittedly down today to 345, but still an extraordinary figure for this time of the year. Over 65,000 people were treated on trolleys during the first six months of 2017. By any credible stretch of the imagination, the Tánaiste now has to accept that this Government, despite giving itself applause and claps on the back about the biggest budget it has provided for the health care services, is not providing the health care services that are required.
Will the Tánaiste accept that this Government has been lethargic, at best, in trying to deal with the challenges in the health care services, and primarily in the acute hospital setting? We now have a situation where, week on week, we have record after record being broken with regard to overcrowding in our emergency departments and the number of people in outpatient and inpatient services is now nearly at 700,000. Our acute hospital system is in crisis. Couple that with challenges in primary care and we are going to have a winter in which there will be an awful lot of pressure on our emergency departments. Elderly people in particular will be waiting inordinate periods to be admitted to hospital. Is it now time for the Government to accept that its winter-proofing systems that have been in place for the last number of years have been an abject failure and that it requires a hands-on approach from the Minister and Government along with the Department of Health to deal with these challenges? I do not think it is good enough for the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and others to stand up and say they are providing the largest budget in the history of the State for health care. If they are, they are failing, because it is simply not providing the services that are needed and required across the major areas, namely, the acute, primary, community care and mental health areas. By any credible yardstick, this Government's health system or health services are failing on a daily basis.
Will the Tánaiste accept that there needs to be a refocusing by the Minister for Health and the Government to prioritise the key areas of the acute hospital, the emergency departments and our primary care setting to ensure that, come the winter, we will not have hundreds of people on a daily basis in our emergency departments across the country, and primarily elderly people, which seems to be the case at the moment?