Local TD, Denis Naughten, has contacted the Minister for Health seeking his urgent intervention to fully open 29 beds to alleviate the current crisis in the Emergency Department of Portiuncula Hospital.
Deputy Naughten has requested that Minister Harris ensure that the staffing is provided to open two five day wards operating on a seven day basis to help deal with the number of patients waiting for a hospital bed in Ballinasloe.
The wards in question are St. Clare’s Ward in Portiuncula University Hospital with twelve beds and St. Brigid’s Ward in Roscommon University Hospital with seventeen beds.
“These 29 beds, if available last weekend would have significantly addressed the problem in Portiuncula Hospital today and approval must be given to have these beds opened and staffed on a seven day a week basis with immediate effect.
“I would also appeal to those referred to Portiuncula by their GP to ask if they can be treated in Roscommon Hospital, which is within half an hour of Athlone and within an hours drive of Tuam, Turloughmore, Bullaun and Eyrecourt.
“Patients should ask GPs if they can have tests or x-rays in Roscommon Hospital rather than spending hours in an emergency department waiting to see a doctor before accessing x-rays or scans,” Deputy Naughten emphasised.
Roscommon’s Injury Unit can treat broken bones, dislocations, sprains, strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns that are unlikely to need admission to hospital. Staff in Roscommon’s Injury Unit perform x-rays, reduce joint dislocations, apply plaster casts and treat wounds by stitches or other means.
“We need to better utilise Roscommon’s injury unit, which can provide for quick diagnosis and discharge back into the community and ensure that people do not have long stays for tests, as is the case in emergency departments.
“This would also help to take pressure off staff in Portiuncula and ensure that older people and children can access treatment quicker in Ballinasloe” Deputy Naughten concluded.
Meanwhile, the local Deputy has confirmed that the charge for people attending hospital injury units will be reduced from €100 to €75 on foot of a proposal he put forward in recent times in Dáil Éireann.
Denis Naughten motioned that in order to better utilise injury units in hospitals which have access to state-of-the-art diagnostics, and significantly shorter waiting times than emergency departments, there should be a reduced hospital charge.
Following Deputy Naughten’s proposal the Minister for Health Simon Harris has now confirmed he is in the process of drafting a change to the charges which will be implemented within the coming days to encourage patients to consider this as an option for appropriate injuries.
“We need to better utilise our injury units, which can provide for quick diagnosis and discharge back into the community and ensure that people do not have long stays for tests, as is the case in emergency departments.
“Currently, people go directly to accident and emergency departments rather than to injury units and this measure will encourage people within the catchment area of injury units to go there in preference to overcrowded A&Es.
“I believe this change in the charging structure will send a clear message to the public to consider using their local injury unit.
“Up to now patients paid the same fee for presenting to an emergency department as they did to an injury unit in hospitals like Roscommon, which was wrong if we wanted to encourage patients to avoid overcrowding in A&Es,” Deputy Naughten remarked.
Injury units are for the treatment of broken bones, dislocations, sprains, strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns that are unlikely to need admission to hospital.
Staff in Injury Units perform x-rays, reduce joint dislocations, apply plaster casts and treat wounds by stitches or other means.
“These could ease the pressure on some of the most overcrowded emergency departments in the country and I welcome this move by Minister Harris,” Deputy Naughten commented.