Minister Denis Naughten has announced the extension of opening hours at the Medical Assessment Unit at Roscommon Hospital, stating that it’s a major breakthrough and clear delivery by him of a commitment he gave prior to last year’s General Election.
The MAU currently opens from 9 am-5 pm Monday to Friday. While Minister Naughten did not elaborate on the new opening hours, he told the Roscommon People that “the extended hours will include evenings and weekends.”
Minister Naughten said that he had sought the expansion of the services currently available at Roscommon Hospital so that the facility can cater for more patients who need to see a doctor urgently.
On Tuesday he said he has now secured the necessary funding under a ‘hospitals capacity building measure’. This, he said, is part of the new ‘Access Plan’ which will ensure patients can avail of the medical care they need in the most appropriate setting for them.
“Due to overcrowding in our A&Es many older people postpone getting medical treatment until their GP is available the next morning or after the weekend,” explained Minister Naughten. “This in many instances means that the older person has become too sick to be treated in Roscommon Hospital and ends up in A&E anyway. This situation will now be eased as a result of the planned extension of the MAU opening hours in Roscommon and this will allow people, where appropriate, to be treated in the MAU and not be forced to wait in already overcrowded accident and emergency departments.
“This is going to be of huge benefit particularly to older people throughout the catchment of Roscommon Hospital & GPs who make the referrals but it is also going to be of benefit to Portiuncula Hospital as well as to the hospitals in Sligo and Castlebar because now we are going to have less older people and less sick people presenting in accident and emergency.”
Minister Naughten said that directly because of his position on Roscommon, the Department of Health have decided to expand the measure beyond Roscommon to three other hospitals.
“This is an issue I have felt very strongly about since long before I became a member of Cabinet and I am delighted that my continued work and commitment in this area has led to this announcement,” added Minister Naughten.