The Taoiseach has doubled down on comments that doctors should work 'full whack' over the Christmas break. Leo Varadkar's assertion that leave should be cancelled for some in the health service has caused division among doctors and politicians.
It's been criticized as deflection to the HSE with the Taoiseach taking none of the responsibility. Meanwhile, a leading surgeon says hospital overcrowding won't be fixed by simply refusing to let healthcare staff take holidays.
Kenneth Mealy, The President of the Royal College of Surgeons, described the Taoiseach's comment as "interesting".
"The issues at stake are complex, we know there is always a surge in medical need in the new year".
He said that there is "clearly" a need for the appropriate staff to be in place to deal with a rise in patients.
Speaking to Independent.ie in Finland, Leo Varadkar said "the emergency department and medical consultants should be there" in the first two weeks in January.
In responce Fianna Fáil's Billy Kelleher says his 'flippant comments' are consistent with his modus operandi of blaming others for his, and his government’s failings in health.
Deputy Kelleher who was Fianna Fáil’s Health Spokesperson while Mr Varadkar was Health Minister spoke after the Dáil exchange yesterday where doctors, nurses and back up staff should not leave in the first two weeks of the new year.
“The Taoiseach’s comments were flippant and insensitive to those who work in the public health service and who go above and beyond the call of duty every Christmas and indeed throughout the year.
“Indeed while he was Minister for Health and I faced him directly across the floor of the Dáil, I observed that he had sought to present himself as a commentator on the chaos in his department rather accept any responsibility for being the person in charge.
“Just minutes before his comments seeking to blame staff, the Taoiseach confirmed that the HSE is not attempting to implement a Winter Initiative this year because of the failure of previous initiatives.
“If I was cynical, I’d wonder whether the Taoiseach actually made these flippant remarks in an effort to distract from his admission that he and his government have no ideas on how to deal with ED overcrowding.
“Instead of trying to scapegoat our health workers, the Taoiseach, his Minister for Health and HSE senior management need to look at themselves and what they have, and have not delivered.
“Sooner or later the penny will drop that it’s not good enough for the Taoiseach to conduct himself as if he was a radio chat show panellist. ''