A Galway East TD is demanding the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, state publicly if additional radiographers, needed to operate a bone scanner at Merlin Park Hospital, have been recruited.
Fianna Fáil Galway East TD Anne Rabbitte made her call following a recent report that patients were waiting up to 20 years for bone scans at the hospital because of a shortage of staff. Merlin Park is the main bone density scanning centre in the west of Ireland.
Also, Dep Rabbitte's FF colleague Dara Calleary received confirmation from the Saolta Hospital Group that nine posts were in the process of being filled last month. The Portumna TD is now asking how many of those vacancies have been "successfully filled since then"?
“Despite confirmation from Saolta that it is in the middle of a recruitment process, I am not overly confident these posts will be filled as a matter of urgency," Dep Rabbite said. "The longer these vacancies go unfilled, the longer the waiting lists become and the more patients suffer."
The TD called the delays a "scandalous situation" and "completely unacceptable", saying they have "serious consequences for patients": "These are older people and people with brittle bones and osteoporosis and they are being forced to wait years for essential scans."
Dep Rabbitte acknowledged that services at both University Hospital Galway and Merlin Park were "severely overstretched", while "any threats" of cuts to services at Portiuncula "will have a seriously detrimental impact on staff and patients".
"Waiting lists are already out of control," she said. "I am extremely concerned about any moves to downgrade services at nearby hospitals."