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Friday 6 December 2019

Death rates quoted by minister inaccurate, say A&E protesters

Eilish O'Regan and Michael Brennan

THE death rate from heart attacks in Roscommon Hospital is much lower than the high figures quoted by Health Minister James Reilly, campaigners claimed yesterday.

Dr Reilly said last week that cardiac patients attending Roscommon Hospital had four times the mortality rate, at 21.3pc, of those admitted to Galway University Hospital, at 5.8pc.

Galway is one of the hospitals patients will be transferred to since the closure of Roscommon's A&E.

However, John McDermott, chairman of the Roscommon Hospital Action Committee, said he had statistics from the hospital showing the rate for cardiac deaths was closer to 1.5pc last year.

And he said the figures showed an overall mortality rate of between 3.5pc and 6pc at Roscommon Hospital over the past three years.

Mr McDermott said the figures also needed to account for the older population the hospital catered for.

"So far this year there have been eight deaths, including a 90-year-old and three people in their 80s," he added.

Roscommon's A&E department closed at 8am on Monday and was replaced with a minor-injuries unit for adults only.

A spokesman for Dr Reilly said the cardiac mortality rate at Roscommon Hospital was separate from the decision to close the A&E unit, which had been decided on in advance of the figures being compiled.

The decision was based on two reports by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), he said.

He said the figures being quoted by the Roscommon Hospital Action Committee did not compare like with like.

The spokesman added that the Department of Health had analysed figures provided under the Hospital Inpatient Enquiry System over the past three years and that the numbers quoted by Dr Reilly related to samples of 100 people presenting with heart attacks. The numbers quoted by the committee looked at overall mortality rates.

Later in the Dail, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the death rate from heart attacks in Roscommon was much higher than the national average. "With regard to mortality rates, Ireland performs well compared to other countries, with an in-hospital mortality rate within 30 days of 7.2 per 100 admissions," he said.

Replying to Socialist TD Joe Higgins, he said: "What the deputy neglected to say is that the analysis finds the in-hospital mortality rate from heart attacks in Roscommon . . . is 21.3 per 100 admissions compared to a national average of 7.2 per 100 admissions."

Meanwhile, the Health Service Executive (HSE) said yesterday it carried out its own risk assessment of services at Roscommon before deciding to remove its A&E department.

It followed confirmation that inspectors from HIQA did not visit the hospital to analyse safety. HIQA inspected hospitals in Ennis and Mallow but none of the others earmarked by the HSE for a loss of services.

The HSE said it was obliged to follow up on safety recommendations made by HIQA after its inspection of Ennis Hospital in 2009 .

The HSE was asked to address safety issues such as low volume of patients and lack of specialist expertise in other similar-sized hospitals.

The HSE provided a list of 10 hospitals, including Roscommon, which were identified as having similar safety issues to Ennis earlier this year.

Irish Independent

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