A decision that ambulances should bypass Portiuncula Hospital's emergency department under new protocols for trauma patients has been described as a move to downgrade services at the Ballinasloe hospital.
Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon/Galway Eugene Murphy claims that ambulance staff have been instructed to bypass Portiuncula's ED and instead head to UHG or the Midland Hospital in Tullamore.
He stated that he understands from internal documents he has obtained that the HSE has introduced a new protocol which involves bypassing the emergency department of Portiuncula Hospital.
"Under new protocol measures the HSE has indicated that the emergency department in Portiuncula Hospital will now be bypassed for trauma patients as they will be transported to the nearest 'appropriate' emergency department, ie, University Hospital Galway and the Midland Hospital Tullamore.
"This is a clear attempt to downgrade services at Portiuncula Hospital as the emergency department of the hospital will now be bypassed for trauma patients who will now be brought to Galway or Tullamore instead. This means that ambulances travelling from Roscommon and parts of Galway will now have a longer turnaround time to Galway as opposed to Portiuncula and you must also take traffic congestion problems in Galway city into account.
“According to internal HSE documentation which I have obtained, the HSE has been addressing risks at a number of acute hospitals, including Portiuncula and they have decided to bypass the emergency department for trauma patients and go straight to Galway or Tullamore."
He said when the emergency department of Roscommon County Hospital was closed the public was assured that adequate resources would be put in place to fill that void.
"Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe is the nearest ED for many parts of Roscommon so it is now somewhat alarming to discover that trauma patients will now be bypassing Portiuncula and heading on a longer journey into Galway. The people of Roscommon and Ballinasloe deserve better and I will be holding the Government and the Minister for Health to account on this matter," concluded Deputy Murphy.