A Donegal Deputy has challenged Tánaiste Leo Varadkar today in relation to the ‘PCR test fiasco’.
A shortage of appointments has been reported across the State, with tests available in just three counties last night.
While Donegal centres offer hundreds of free slots this week, the county stands out from the crowd.
Speaking in the Dáil, Sinn Féin Deputy Pearse Doherty has called for urgent action to cope with the fourth wave of Covid-19.
“The banter on social media this morning is that it is easier to get a Garth Brooks ticket than a PCR test,” Deputy Doherty told the Dáil.
“As we speak, it is not possible to book a PCR test in most of the state.
“This is a direct result of the government’s failure to plan, which has been seen time and again throughout the course of this pandemic.
“GP services are overwhelmed, and schools are struggling. There is still not plan for antigen testing.
“We are nearly two years into this pandemic and the system needs to be equipped to cope with higher levels of transmission — something which was always a possibility.”
Speaking to an Tánaiste, Doherty said: “In our hospitals, especially ICUs, we see the sharpest impact. The ongoing capacity crisis in ICUs did not happen overnight.
“It is a legacy of successive governments and successive Ministers for Health; yourself included Tánaiste.
“The vaccination programme and restriction gave us time to prepare hospital capacity for surges, but that opportunity has been squandered, and on the brink of Christmas, we once again find ourselves in a crisis.
“That is inexcusable.”
In other counties, families have reported distressing situations of being unable to get a test, to go to work, or get a GP on the phone when someone in their household shows symptoms of Covid-19.
Doherty said: “I heard you on the radio earlier this morning and you don’t seem to understand that access to a PCR test is the difference between many people getting paid or not.
“It is all good and well saying to people ‘sure take a few days off while you wait for a test.’
“But for many workers and families, that is not an option.
“The continued failure by you as Minister for Enterprise to put in place a sick pay scheme is exacerbating that situation for thousands of workers.
“Some counties have real problems, particularly in the East and South-East, where people are waiting up to three days for a test.
“The HSE need to be managing the resources we have and deploying them where they are needed most.
“We need to boost capacity in the public system, and we will need high volume testing well into the future
“We need all hands-on deck, and we need to resource labs and support medical scientists to deliver quicker turnaround with high volume.
“So, can I ask what is the government’s plan to increase PCR testing capacity in the weeks ahead? We cannot continue as we are.”