The urgent need to progress a number of projects at Portiuncula University Hospital, Ballinasloe – including a replacement scanner and new modular emergency department and outpatient waiting room – has been raised with the HSE by local Deputy, Denis Naughten.
Deputy Naughten had previously raised the need for a new CT scanner at the hospital when it emerged 12 months ago that it had been out of action for 144 hours during the month of September 2020, and had broken down 10 times over the previous 18 months.
The HSE has now confirmed to Denis Naughten that funding has been allocated from the Equipment Replacement Programme for 2022 for the scanner. A feasibility study has been completed for the development of the theatre under-croft area to accommodate the replacement scanner, which is currently under review with HSE Estates.
“So, while plans are progressing to purchase a new scanner next year, we still have no confirmation as to when works will be completed at Portiuncula Hospital to accommodate this it. Will it remain in a box after its delivery? This cannot be allowed to happen.
“These delays in providing a new operational CT scanner at Portiuncula are completely unacceptable at a time when we need to expand access diagnostic services such as CT scans to deal with huge waiting lists that have been added to during Covid 19.
“This delay in replacing vital equipment is not only impacting on waiting lists but is also adding to overcrowding in A&E at Portiuncula Hospital, which is servicing the western part of the Midlands as well as a large geographic part of the province of Connacht.”
Deputy Naughten also raised the need for a new modular emergency department extension at Portiuncula Hospital to ensure a separate stream for patients presenting with Covid-19 or other infectious diseases.
The Saolta Group confirmed to him that plans have been submitted for a modular extension to the current emergency department but it seems this will have to now wait to be considered until next year because HSE Estates are “focusing on the conversion of the existing outpatient’s department to 12 single rooms to create additional capacity on the site”.
“The conversion of the old Outpatients Department at Portiuncula into 12 single rooms was to replace the beds lost last year at the hospital due to Covid restrictions. We were promised by the Department of Health that this work would have been completed in Spring 2021, but the latest update is that this will now not be available until Summer 2022.
“These additional 12 beds were announced 12 months ago as part of the HSE’s Winter Planning within the Covid-19 Pandemic and the projects including the one at Portiuncula were to be completed by April 2021,” Deputy Naughten added.
Deputy Naughten has also confirmed that plans are being developed at Portiuncula Hospital for the development of a waiting room, which was not included in the new modular outpatient’s department that was opened earlier this year.
“There is a clear thread running through all of these projects and that is that each project is being acted upon in a piecemeal manner, which is leading to considerable delays in delivery and having a direct impact on hospital overcrowding. This will lead to infection which leads to longer stays in hospital, delays in waiting lists for treatment and diagnostics and this is all ultimately causing further and unnecessary clogging in our A&E Department,” Deputy Naughten remarked.