Minister unable to answer assault unit questions

No threat to Mullingar service - HSE

Senator Nicky McFadden is dissatisfied with the response she received from the Minister for Health when she raised the plight of Mullingar Hospital’s Sexual Assault Treatment Unit this week.

However, the HSE says there is no threat to the service and that the facility has proven very successful for the area.

Last week the first annual report on the country’s Sexual Assault Treatment Units (SATUs ) revealed that the unit, which serves counties Westmeath, Longford, Offaly, and Laois, is operating from a temporary location in the hospital, with inadequate staffing levels.

When she raised the issue in the Senate this week, Senator McFadden was told Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney was unable to answer her questions on the unit “due to industrial action”.

“I asked when the unit would move to its permanent location and have proper facilities. I got no concrete answer. Who is in charge, who is responsible? ” said Senator McFadden.

“Postmortem facilities recently moved to Tullamore, and with the moratorium on hiring the assault unit can’t recruit staff. There is a danger the service will be withdrawn altogether; it is the slow, steady downgrade of our hospital.”

The report on the Mullingar service, which was used by 51 people during 2009, found that the temporary location of the Midland SATU in the hospital prevents full service. Staffing levels were deemed to be inadequate, with just five doctors now available compared with eight when it first opened in February 2009

However, the HSE said yesterday there is no threat to the service provided by the Sexual Assault Treament Unit in Mullingar.

“Currently the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit is based at the Midland Regional Hospital at Mullingar. Discussions have taken place around relocating the unit to an alternative location within the hospital. Plans for this are being finalised.

“While there are challenges, the HSE continues to manage the roster for the unit as it has done since it opened in February 2009. In fact, an additional post has been added to the roster this year.

“The SATU has been very successful for the area and there is no threat to the service.”

 

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