The House will be disappointed at the lack of progress at the October European Council meeting. The issues were well discussed in the House yesterday. We hope that more progress will be made through today. This is an opportune time to pay tribute to the officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade who are putting in such work for the country.
This morning, I wish to focus on a more domestic issue, that is, the problems and difficulties with accessing our health services. Yesterday, a figure was revealed showing that 9,864 people aged over 75 were left lying on trolleys in emergency departments for longer than 24 hours. Almost 10,000 people, aged 75 or older, in the first eight months of 2018 were waiting longer than 24 hours on a trolley.
When people get through our health services there is fantastic treatment. The staff work incredibly hard to give them world class treatment. Yet, when we see that figure and the trolley figures for July and August, which are traditionally quiet times in our hospitals, they show the crisis facing our health service.
Regrettably, there is little action to deal with the crisis. Today is 18 October but we have yet to see details of the winter initiative or the ongoing capacity review. Have the 600 or so beds promised by the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, amid the usual flurry of spin and public relations, actually been delivered? The evidence suggests they have not. We have oceans of promises and spin, yet 10,000 people aged 75 and over have been left for more than 24 hours on a trolley in our hospitals. That figure will only rise as the winter kicks in with the usual avalanche of cases of the cold and flu, etc.
The Minister for Health launched the bed capacity review and outlined the country's bed capacity requirements until 2031. He said that some 600 extra beds would be delivered in the system in 2018. Many hospitals cannot see these extra beds. For example, in Letterkenny a 19-bed unit remains closed, as my colleagues, Deputy McConalogue and Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher, have pointed out on many occasions. The unit is closed, yet the hospital is overcrowded.
What commitments can the Tánaiste give today that 10,000 people over the age of 75 years will not be left on trolleys for longer than 24 hours and that we will not have a repeat of the situation we had last November, December and January when trolley figures went into orbit? What work or action is the Government undertaking now to ensure that will not happen? When will the winter plan for 2018-19 be published?