Funding has been withdrawn for the new €8 million Rehabilitation Unit at Roscommon University Hospital, Dr. Gerry O’Mara, a respected Consultant, has claimed.
It was announced in May of 2015 that the Health Service Executive had approved €7.85 million for building the ten-bed unit, which would operate as a satellite centre for the National Rehabilitation Unit, Dun Laoghaire.
However, Dr. O’Mara, the Consultant Geriatrician at the hospital, has raised fears that the project has been shelved.
“I and my colleagues are very concerned that the funding for the proposed specialist rehabilitation unit has been withdrawn,” he said.
“This is a unit for specialist rehabilitation of younger patients with serious injuries, such as head and spinal injuries, traumatic amputations and also young patients with devastating strokes.”
He said that the unit was vital for the survival of the inpatient beds in Roscommon University Hospital. “I believe that if this project does not go ahead, this hospital will eventually lose its inpatient beds and be allowed to wither, as has happened in Monaghan,” Dr. O’Mara said.
He called on Simon Harris, the new Minister for Health, to ensure that the rehab unit be built, as planned.
“Funding of the rehabilitation unit (is) a political decision, not a local or Saolta management decision,” Dr. O’Mara said.
“And I would urge the new Minister for Health to look into this matter and not to renege on the promises of his predecessors.” He said that the unit would be of immense benefit to the area.
“The site is there; the need is there; the hospital and local population are behind the plan,” Dr. O’Mara said.
“A consultant in rehabilitation medicine has contacted us and wants to come to live and work here in order to develop an adult rehabilitation service based in Roscommon Hospital, but serving the west and northwest.
“He is waiting for the job to be advertised, as has been promised. We cannot let this opportunity pass.”
He said that he and his local colleagues had several patients waiting months for beds in the National Rehabilitation Hospital.
“It would be much easier for such patients and their families if their rehabilitation could occur in a timely manner in the west of Ireland, instead of months too late in an inaccessible part of Dublin, with a six-hour round trip for family and friends when visiting,” Dr. O’Mara said.
“This development makes strategic sense and will pay dividends over the short and long-term.”
Saolta University Healthcare Group did not respond to a request for comment on the matter, but Senator Frank Feighan, of Fine Gael, denied that funding for the unit had been withdrawn.
“As far as I am concerned, there is not truth to that,” the former TD said. “As far as I am concerned, the funding is allocated.”
He said that, now that the new Endoscopy Unit had opened at the hospital, he was calling a meeting for the Minister, local Oireachtas members and all stakesholders to progress the building of the Rehab Unit.