FINE Gael’s Deputy Kieran O’Donnell has said Limerick patients need not endure another two winters in an emergency department “not fit for purpose” if the HSE can find a way to put the plans for a new A&E department on the fast track.
The Limerick TD is vice-chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, where he last month sought answers on the matter from HSE CEO Tony O’Brien.
“Under questioning by me at the Public Accounts Committee meeting on June 12, Mr O’Brien committed to examining options to expedite the new A&E facilities at University Hospital Limerick. I put it to Mr O’Brien that the shell of the building was currently complete and that all that was outstanding was the fit-out of the A&E facilities,” stated Deputy O’Donnell.
“The fact of the matter is that right now, we are looking at the new A&E opening in 2016. In other words, the HSE’s current schedule leaves us facing two winters until the new facilities are open. I believe the timeframe for opening the new facilities must be made as short as humanly possible in the interest of patient care in Limerick,” he added.
Moving the project along was needed especially in the wake of the HIQA report on UL Hospitals Group that found that the current ED in Limerick was “unfit for purpose”, where patients routinely endured long delays and overcrowding.
“I emphasised this to Mr O’Brien and he committed to come back to me with an update on the HSE’s options for expediting the new A&E. I have now formally written to Mr. O’Brien requesting that he provide me with the update,” said Deputy O’Donnell.
He has also asked HSE bosses to give favourable consideration to a request from UL Hospitals Group that the acute medical assessment unit in Dooradoyle move from a five-day to a seven-day operation.
GPs in the region can refer medical patients directly to this unit rather than through the emergency department and Deputy O’Donnell believes its greater use would alleviate pressure in the ED by diverting patients away from it.
“I am hopeful of a positive response from Mr O’Brien, both in respect of the fast-tracking of the A&E, and opening the acute medical assessment unit seven days per week. The issue of proper facilities for Limerick patients is something that is absolutely critical to me - and an issue on which I have been campaigning for quite some time,” stated Deputy O’Donnell.