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In a debate on Portlaoise Hospital Minister for Health James Reilly said:
I am grateful to the Deputy for raising this important issue. The Urgent Care Centre now in place at Roscommon operates from 8am to 8pm seven days a week and is provided by Non Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs) with clinical governance provided by an Emergency Medicine Consultant at Galway. In addition there is a Medical Assessment Unit at the Hospital and an out of hours GP service is in operation. The changes at Roscommon were necessitated by the serious patient safety concerns of the HSE and of the Health Information and Quality Authority in relation to the accident and emergency service at Roscommon following the publication of the Authority’s Report on Mallow Hospital in April 2011. This was compounded because of NCHD recruitment difficulties.
Data from the HSE indicates that since the change of Roscommon’s Emergency Department to an Urgent Care Centre, the number of patients referred each day to other hospitals has been very low. The most recent data for ambulance calls in the Roscommon catchment area shows that less than two patients on average a day were brought to Galway or Portiuncula hospitals. Still fewer patients were brought by ambulance to Mullingar, Sligo and Mayo General Hospital.
While I do not accept that opening the Urgent Care Centre at Roscommon on a 24 hour basis would address the difficulties experienced from time to time at Galway University Hospital Emergency Department, I am committed to ensuring that problems experienced at emergency departments in Galway and elsewhere are addressed.
In recent months I have established the Special Delivery Unit (SDU) under the leadership of Dr Martin Connor. The SDU is working to unblock access to acute services by improving the flow of patients through the system. It is focusing initially on emergency departments and will be working to support hospitals in addressing excessive waiting times for admission to hospital.
I am also committed to the future of Roscommon and to other smaller hospitals.