Health Minister in Dublin hospital for three nights

Health Minister Simon Harris was hospitalised for three nights after he fell ill last weekend, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

The Fine Gael minister’s illness meant that he missed last Tuesday’s cabinet meeting but he was able to return to work on Wednesday.

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It is understood that Mr Harris (32) felt severe pain in his left side at his home in Wicklow last Sunday night and was subsequently advised by an out-of-hours GP service to go to the emergency department.

Mr Harris attended the emergency department at St Vincent’s University Hospital in south Dublin where he was seen within 30 minutes by a triage nurse. He was later checked in to the hospital for the night.

The minister subsequently spent three nights in hospital where he underwent tests and was treated with pain relief. His condition has since improved.

Despite previously revealing in this newspaper that he had private health insurance, Mr Harris is understood to have gone through the public health system.

He has also previously revealed that he suffers from Crohn’s disease, which causes inflammation of the lining of the digestive system.

His hospitalisation meant that Mr Harris, who is the youngest member of cabinet, was unable to attend the weekly meeting of senior ministers in Government Buildings. Ministers were kept informed of Mr Harris’s condition and the TD for Wicklow was working from his hospital bed.

Last Tuesday, for example, he put out a statement announcing a public consultation on widening access to contraception.

Mr Harris was able to return to work on Wednesday morning. He took legislation on the CervicalCheck Tribunal through its final stages in the Dail that day and was also in the Seanad to respond to private members’ legislation on newborn screening.

A spokeswoman for Mr Harris said: “The minister was unwell over the weekend and was admitted to hospital for tests.

“He returned to work on Wednesday and was in the Dail and Seanad to pass the CervicalCheck Tribunal Bill.

“He has no further comment to make on what is a private matter.”

Speaking to the Sunday Independent last month, Mr Harris said: “I have insurance, like about 50pc of people in this country do. I’d like to get to a situation where I and those people don’t need that, and under Slaintecare…

“There is a situation whereby people with private health insurance are able to get seen more quickly and that’s why I’m committed to universal healthcare. I’ve said publicly that I want private practice removed from hospitals.

“I’ll be bringing proposals to Government in September in this regard.”

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