Thursday 8 December 2016

Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin warns 'everybody will be going to Dublin for an emergency department' if Government keeps reducing services

Kevin Doyle, Group Political Editor

Published 12/07/2016 | 15:14

Micheal Martin
Micheal Martin

Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin has warned that "everybody will be going to Dublin for an emergency department" if the Government keep reducing services.

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The party leader told the Dáil today that a report suggests nine A&E departments are "under threat for downgrading" and called on the Government to start reviewing their policy.

"This causes concern right across the country. In all of the emergency departments across the country there is incredible overcrowding," he said.

During Leaders' Questions Mr Martin cited leaked details of an unpublished report from the Trauma Steering Group which was set up by previous health minister Leo Varadkar to look at developing a national trauma network.

Among its recommendations is the removal of trauma care from the following hospitals: Cavan, Naas, Portiuncula in Ballinasloe, Mullingar, Portlaoise, St Luke's in Kilkenny, Wexford, South Tipperary in Clonmel and Mercy University Hospital in Cork.

Mr Martin said: "There will be regions without emergency departments if this trend continues."

He complained that there is a possibility of no A&E service between Waterford and Dublin, and between Tullamore and Tallaght.

Emergency departments in Dublin are already "bursting at the seams", he said.

"There needs to be a re-evaluation of this because before we're finished everybody will be going to Dublin for an emergency department."

However, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald rejected the claims of cutbacks to A&E services, saying the trauma report was about "getting the best outcomes for a particular small category".

"There is no question of closing down emergency departments.

"There is no question of focusing emergency care in Dublin.

"There are very large demands on our health services, that's why an extra €500m has been allocated this year," she said.

However, Mr Martin responded that while A&E may not be closed, their services could be re-evaluated.

He said the Government needed to apply "common sense".

"Someone needs to push back in. Tallaght's not going to be able to take everything. Galway can't cope. Cork University Hospital can't take anymore," he said.

Sinn Féin Louise O'Reilly claimed people would be driving by their local hospital tonight and wondering "if it's going to survive this government's tenure".

Ms Fitzgerald said there was no reason why people should do that "unless by statemnents in here that anxiety is raised unnecessarily".

"Trauma services are one of those areas that requires a national policy direction.

"To say emergency deparments are now under threat because we're discussing patients with traumatic injuries is incorrect," she said.

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