Patient care is the priority.
Byline: MARIE KIERANS
Do our Government ministers and TDs listen to the news or read the papers? Do they pay any heed to the information delivered by their opposition counterparts in the Dail?
I ask these questions after another disaster of a week for the emergency departments in hospitals up and down the country.
Despite the never-ending crisis, it seems the huge numbers of patients on hospital trolleys -- without the dignity of a proper bed in a proper ward -- are being ignored by the powers that be in Dail Eireann.
They just don't seem to get it.
Fed-up patients and their families want action, not in a few months or a few years, but now.
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda was once again bursting at the seams last week. It is one of the most overcrowded departments in the country.
There was nowhere to put sick patients. It's an outrage.
And until you've seen it and experienced it yourself, it is hard to comprehend how serious the situation is.
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who is a TD for the Louth area, has put it up to the Taoiseach to visit the hospital himself and see the strain and stress staff and patients are having to endure as a result of what he has described as the Government's "failed health policy".
I'd love to see Enda Kenny respond to this challenge.
Two weeks ago I spent about five hours in that emergency department and it was pure chaos. To describe it as a war zone wouldn't be an exaggeration.
On this particular night there were lots of poor patients on trolleys in the corridors with absolutely no privacy. Others were sitting in chairs.
For a wash they had to go to the public toilets. In the waiting room an elderly man sat huddled with a blanket over him for warmth while a bloodied youth abused staff nearby.
As sick patients waited and waited to be seen, another man with blood pouring down his face was squaring up to the ambulance men who had transported him to the hospital.
It was scary stuff and not what anyone wants to be witnessing, let alone when they are unwell and already feeling vulnerable.
The INMO, representing a workforce at breaking point, has succeeded in recent days in securing a commitment from management to make additional beds available and to recruit 88 extra nurses.
Let's hope this really does happen and it's not more false promises.
And what about the other hospitals around the country in similar crisis situations? The Irish Hospital Consultants' Association says the Government has not provided adequate resources.
Any action plan, it insists, must confirm that no patient should have to wait on a trolley after a decision to admit them has been taken in an emergency department.
This is essential from a medical care perspective.
Patient care must be the priority and that is being jeopardised when the patient can't even get a bed.
Concerned: Gerry Adams
Ordeal: man waits on a trolley