SIPTU representatives have today (Monday, 15th January) called on the Government to instruct the Health, Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to conduct an investigation into the impact of the crisis in hospital emergency departments on patient and worker safety. SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “SIPTU members find it quite bizarre that it is claimed that HIQA has no role to play in ending the overcrowding crisis in emergency departments in hospitals across the country. That the independent authority charged with investigating health and safety remains outside of the process to find a solution to this crisis is completely unacceptable. “SIPTU representatives have been advised that HIQA can conduct investigations in emergency departments under the direction of the Minister for Health as outlined in Section 9 of the Health Act 2007. We are now calling on the Minister to instruct HIQA to begin such investigations into the impact of the crisis in emergency departments on the health and safety of patients and workers.” Bell added: “It is the view of our members that overcrowding in emergency departments results in unsafe conditions for patients and workers, as well as having a devastating knock-on effect throughout the health service. “The Government should also enact the Patient Safety (Licensing) Bill. That Bill provides a mandatory licensing system for private and public hospitals. Government must also grant additional powers to HIQA to regulate acute general hospitals and give the authority real enforcement powers. This needs to happen without delay.”