Sunday 21 April 2019

Hospital 'not fit for purpose'

Sorcha Crowley

Sligo University Hospital infrastructure is "not fit for purpose".

That's according to consultant in emergency medicine at Sligo Emergency Department Dr Fergal Hickey who gave a presentation to members of Sligo County Council at the July meeting on Monday.

Dr Hickey said demand for beds was rising but capacity has fallen. "We need capacity and we need it now," he said, telling members that capacity was Sligo's biggest problem.

In 2004 Sligo had 323 inpatient beds and 72 day beds, he told the chamber. In 2018, the hospital has 281 in patient beds and 62 day beds. Dr Hickey said the Emergency Department (ED) built in the 1980's was designed to treat 20,000 people but today staff were coping with 38,000 patients.

He said that in the short term, we needed more medical beds. A two-story modular block proposed for the front of the hospital would provide a short-term solution of 50 more beds.

However Dr Hickey said the long-term and ideally the best solution for Sligo University Hospital was a new extension containing a new ED, new operating theaters, radiology department, ICU and High Dependency Unit, Surgical, Paediatric and Maternity wards.

This would cost between 100-110million Euro he estimated, which risked Sligo being over-looked by the Government in favour of other cheaper projects elsewhere.

Dr Hickey said 350 patients, most elderly, were dying as a direct result of hospital overcrowding a year and said his own father died as he waited on a trolley in a Dublin hospital. He said in ten years, 3,500 people could die from the trolley crisis.

He said there were double standards in the political handling of these deaths and the current Cervical Check scandal.

"More people are dying as a result of over-crowding than any number of people possibly could from the Cervical Check scandal. These are young women with children, even the media interest is different," he said, adding that it was not to take away from those women involved in the scandal.

"I don't get a sense from the people in power that they get the urgency of this," he said, adding that elderly patients who die as a result of being left waiting on a trolley "don't pitch up in coroner's inquests the way they should."

Dr Hickey stressed however that Sligo University Hospital was "not under threat" and a lot of the talk that it is, was "simply nonsense"

"The situation is never helped by scaremongering. The situation we should aim for is for Sligo to be the second city of the empire, the main hospital in the northern end of the Saolta hospital group," he said.

Sligo Champion