Sinn Féin Councillor Mairéad Farrell has slammed the Government’s current failure to efficiently manage the Health and Housing sector in Galway.
Health Service Staff Shortage in Galway
In relation to health, the Galway City East Councillor called on the Government to address the prevailing shortage of doctors and nurses plaguing the health service in Galway and Nationwide.
Cllr. Farrell declared that there is a clear recruitment and retention crisis of health service employees in Galway.
This toxic situation can be evidenced by the fact over 59 Million has been spent on Agency staff at University Hospital Galway and Portiuncula Hospital Ballinasloe since 2010.
In addition to this, across the state there is double the amount spent on agency staff since 2001, Cllr. Farrell asserted her belief that this is the result of the dramatic crisis we now face with a shortage of nurses and doctors.
Cllr. Farrell claimed the ‘over-reliance on the use of more expensive agency staff is a direct result of the escalation of the recruitment and retention crisis under this government’.
The City Councillor urged the Government to ‘stem the rampant spending on costly, temporary agency staff’.
Building on this, Cllr. Farrell outlined the fact she has previously worked with Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson in the Dáil Lousie O’Reilly TD in persistently raising the matter with the Minister for Health.
The Councillor stated the purpose of bringing this matter to the Minister’s attention was to make him aware that ‘huge amounts of money can be saved’ if he deals with the recruitment and retention crisis by recruiting and retaining directly employed HSE staff which are ‘significantly less expensive than agency staff’.
Cllr. Farrell confounded the ‘ineptitude’ of The Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.
Cllr. Farrell identified the Government as being the root cause of hospitals being ‘forced’ to rely on the current costly staffing mechanisms to fill vacant posts.
She claims this is due to the inability of the current Government to address the recruitment and retention crisis.
To conclude, Cllr. Farrell pointed out that Health service staff have repeatedly listed ‘working conditions, facilities, supports, training opportunities and pay as the cause of the recruitment and retention crisis’.
Until these issues are addressed the Councillor stated that the crisis will continue with ‘staggering’ amounts of money being spent on agency spending.
Rent Increases in Galway
Cllr. Farrell also urged the Government to introduce an alternative rent model.
The future Sinn Féin Galway West General Election candidate alluded to figures recently released from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) revealing Galway City was home to the second highest rents in the state.
Cllr. Farrell spoke of the urgent necessity to introduce a cost rental model to ‘provide an alternative for those struggling with market rents’.
To add to this, the Councilor declared her desire for a rent freeze to be implemented.
The Sinn Féin representative acknowledged that according to the RTB report, the rate of rent increase is slowing across the state however, The Councilor affirmed this is of ‘cold comfort to tenants looking for somewhere to live or struggling to hold on to an increasingly expensive tenancy’.
Mairéad Farrell called for an urgent review of the rent pressure zone legislation while emphasizing her ‘surprise’ Fianna Fáil did not demand this sort of review in its confidence and supply talks.
Cllr Farrell revealed that Sinn Féin desire a ‘three year rent freeze on existing tenancies’. Doubling down on this, she highlighted Sinn Féin’s requirement that any ‘new tenancies should be capped at the RTB’s standardized rent index by county or LEA’.
Finally Councilor Farrell noted Sinn Féin intend to ‘introduce a temporary refundable rent relief for all renters to help ease affordability pressures’ if in Government. She elaborated how ‘his measure would give one month’s rent back to tenants annually’.
The Mervue-based Councilor rounded off by demanding an ‘alternative to those struggling to keep pace with market rents’.