Thursday 23 May 2019

Plug pulled on second x-ray room

TD and senator slam decision not to open second x-ray

Olivia Ryan

Louth TD Imelda Munster has criticised the HSE for 'pulling the plug on an X-ray room' which she said was previously included in plans for the newly extended Emergency Department of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

Speaking in the Dáil she asked that HSE management 'revert to the original plans to include a second X-ray room in the interest of best practice and patient care.'

Deputy Munster said: 'The provision of a second X-ray room, deemed essential by medical personnel for the efficient running of the new extension to the Emergency Department, had been costed and included in the tender before being suddenly withdrawn at the last minute. These plans have been in place for ten years and included the X-ray room.'

The Louth TD added: 'Obviously the extended Emergency Department will mean increases in patients presenting for treatment. Given that 80% of all patients who present to the Emergency Department need X-rays, CT scans, MRIs or ultrasounds - how are staff supposed to cope with only one X-Ray room?'

'This is compounded by the fact that the existing and only X-ray room is operating at full capacity and beyond, and the equipment - which is ten years old - is already obsolete.'

Deputy Munster told the Dail that Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, 'notwithstanding that it had the highest number of radiological examinations in 2017, is the only major hospital in the country where the Emergency Department has to rely on the one X-Ray room.'

She added that staff at the hopsital 'have been crying out for additional resources for years.'

She hit out at the decision, saying: 'This is an unbelievably myopic and incompetent decision by the HSE. It's like building a new house without a roof.'

'Patients are going to suffer with longer waiting times and it will put paid to the best practice targets for those requiring hip replacements and other surgeries.'

The Louth TD added: 'This is another example of senior HSE management ignoring medical professionals working on the front line and putting patient care and best practice in second place.'

'The Minister has a duty to intervene and resolve this matter. This decision must be reversed. It's a retrograde step, bordering on ludicrous. If the extension is to cope with higher turnover, how is it supposed to do this without an additional X-ray room?'

She said she had written to the Minister for Health requesting 'an immediate reversal of this outrageous decision.'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told Deputy Munster he would have Minister for Health Simon Harris to respond to her on the matter.

Senator Ged Nash told the Minister for Health that the HSE's decision 'will lead to more patients on trolleys at the busy A&E in Drogheda.'

Speaking in the Seanad, the Labour Senator said; "I worked hard during my own spell in government to get the resources for new beds and theatres for the Lourdes and the expansion of ED. This is on track.

"Part of the 9,000 square metre expansion involved the extension to ED. Now it appears that the newly expanded ED will have to make do with one existing x-ray room as a result of a unilateral, eleventh hour decision taken by the bean counters in the HSE.

"For €1million (only 5% of the overall project cost), the Lourdes ED would have a second, badly needed x-ray room in ED.

"Instead, the plan has been ditched. Without additional capacity in terms of diagnostics, more patients will be left waiting in ED and for longer, with hard working staff set to be out under even more pressure as patient numbers escalate.

"This decision is outrageous and it needs to be reversed immediately. Now is the time to do the job as it will be virtually impossible to 'retrofit' an x-ray room into the facility once the building becomes fully operational."

Drogheda Independent