Local TD Denis Naughten has voiced concern that the new hospital grouping plans, along with the ongoing HIQA report into maternity services, may detrimentally impact on the provision of maternity services in Portiuncula Hospital.
“[Tuesday’s] announcement by Minister Reilly will see the grouping of Portiuncula Hospital with six other hospitals - four of which also have a maternity unit,” stated Denis Naughten.
“There is now a fear with the structure of the new group having five maternity units - and with Portiuncula located on the group’s periphery with motorway links to Galway – that it could be under pressure.
“In isolation, I believe that the Ballinasloe hospital would retain its existing first class maternity service, but there is already an agenda within the HSE to see smaller units such as Portiuncula amalgamated with bigger hospitals.
“This comes on top of the current HIQA review of maternity services on foot of the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar, which will have implications for every maternity unit in the country.
“So while the theory behind the new hospital grouping makes sense, to date the experience has been that while the medical professionals have welcomed this plan in general they have been the ones who have blocked the development of services in smaller hospitals such as Portiuncula and Roscommon,” added Deputy Naughten.
“Therefore it is imperative that all of these plans and reforms are closely monitored to ensure that they deliver the best possible service as close as possible to a patient’s home and not only maintain existing services in Portiuncula but see them enhanced and developed.”