Labour T.D. Brendan Howlin has described as 'daft and unacceptable' a suggestion from the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine that eight A&E departments in the country, including Wexford General Hospital, that don't have 24-hour consultancy cover, should cease operating.
The difference of opinion follows a recommendation by a Dublin Coroner, at an inquest into the death last year of a man who presented at the emergency department in Wexford and experienced a long delay in accessing a CT scan as there was not a consultant available to authorise it.
The Coroner recommended that all emergency departments should have 24-hour cover by consultants in emergency medicine to 'prevent future deaths'.
However, the IAEM said there are too many emergency departments in the country and the eight hospitals that don't have 24-hour consultant cover should cease operating as A&E departments.
The emergency department at Wexford General Hospital is among the services that would be affected by such a move, along with Kilkenny, Mullingar and Portlaoise.
'That is a daft and unacceptable response. It's like saying, we don't have a dual carriagway from Oyglegate to Rosslare so we should close the road altogether'. said Deputy Howlin.
'What we need is for 24-hour cover to be provided at the departments that don't currently have it. The eight hospitals should be provided with sufficient consultants in the A&E departments to operate 24/7.'
'In the interim, non-consultant hospital doctors should be authorised to sanction scans when appropriate', he said.
'I find that the people who support the consolidation and closure of A&E departments are those who themselves only live half an hour from one', he added.