Roscommon politicians have reacted to an article in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post on a report by the Government’s Trauma Steering Group which suggested that nine Accident and Emergency Units throughout the country could be closed.
The A&E Departments of Portiuncula and Mullingar Hospitals were among the nine named in the article. The Trauma Steering Group has been examining the treatment of trauma patients and ensuring they are treated in the correct facility but has not yet presented its report to Minister Harris.
A number of Roscommon politicians have reacted to the news:
Senator Maura Hopkins stated that
she has “been in direct contact with Minister for Health, Simon Harris regarding A & E services at Portiuncula Hospital and there are no plans to close or remove services from any A & E departments, including Portiuncula Hospital”.
She went on to say that “the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) which represents all surgeons in the country asked that a review take place at their last AGM examining management of trauma injuries in our hospitals for example, a severe head injury. Former Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar agreed to this request and a Trauma Steering Group was set up to examine this issue. This group has not yet reported and Minister Harris has not seen any output from the group. It is likely a report will not be presented until the end of the year.”
Senator Hopkins concluded by saying that “there are no plans to remove A & E services from Portiuncula Hospital, I will continue to work hard with Minister Harris to seek regular updates and ensure the services are maintained within the hospital”.
Minister Denis Naughten TD said
“This issue also arose during the talks on the formation of a government and I made it crystal clear that I would not tolerate any proposal to downgrade the A&E at Portiuncula Hospital,” stated Minister Naughten.
“I was given a specific assurance that there would be no downgrading of the A&E and I have re-iterated this to the new Minister for Health, Simon Harris.”
Minister Naughten pointed out that major trauma already bypasses Portiuncula Hospital, and has done so for a number of years. “The air ambulance is now used to ensure patients who have sustained major trauma can be transferred to major trauma centres where they can access the necessary treatment much more quickly and that is a service I am looking to have extended,” stated Minister Naughten.
Fianna Fail TD for Roscommon-Galway, Eugene Murphy blasted the revelation as “bizarre and unbelievable”.
Deputy Murphy said “Only a few months ago the HSE gave an absolute guarantee to me and other TD’s from the area that no downgrading would take place in Portiuncula. In light of the revelations in the Business Post it is now imperative that the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health make an immediate public statement clarifying this issue. The people of Roscommon/East Galway have already lost the A&E at Roscommon University Hospital. Enough is enough. We must nip this in the bud now. I will be seeking time in the Dàil this week to pursue this issue as a matter of urgency,” said Eugene Murphy.
“Any threat to down grade services at the A and E unit at Portiuncla Hospital in Ballinasloe will not be tolerated and local Ministers should be prepared to resign from Government if that ever became a reality” that’s the view of Roscommon- Galway Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.
“It was agreed at the talks on the programme for Government that there would be no threat to the A and E services at Portiuncla and I expect that the Government will stick to that agreement. The HSE may be carrying out audits and reports on various services without the knowledge of the Minsiter but it is now time that Minister Harris called the HSE to order on this issue once and for all and that he issue a statement re-iterating the Government stance on this matter”
“Ministers Naughten, Canny and Moran should be prepared to resign from Government if a 100% guarantee on the future of services at the A and E at Portiuncla is not forthcoming from Minister Harris. I would also ask the question, are Fianna Fail going to support a Government that would stand over any downgrading of Portiuncla and the other eight hospitals mentioned in this latest HSE report? I have been in contact with Minister Harris on this and I am calling on him to make a definitive statement on this issue immediately.”