Fianna Fail TD Deputy Eugene Murphy, right, says he has received assurances that there is no threat to maternity services or the Emergency Department (ED) at Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe.
Deputy Murphy was speaking after a special briefing of local Oireachtas members with the Saolta Group at Galway University Hospital (GUH) last Friday.
“We have been assured that there is no intention to downgrade or close the maternity services at Portiuncula Hospital, and I understand that any recommendations from an independent review of those services will be implemented,” Deputy Murphy said.
The Fianna Fail TD said that staffing levels at Portiuncula would improve with seven new posts, including a pediatric consultant, an anesthetist and a radiologist to be in place by autumn.
Deputy Murphy also welcomed the fact that a 50-bed replacement ward at Portiuncula Hospital is also now going to planning stage.
He also welcomed the news that Saolta executive have publicly acknowledged the need for a new hospital to be built on the Merlin Park site in Galway, but he noted that this could take years to come to fruition.
“This is the first time that it has publicly been acknowledged that a new hospital is necessary on the Merlin Park site and an active campaign now needs to begin to make this a reality because the simple fact is that from planning to completion stage it could take years,” Deputy Murphy said.
He also highlighted other issues which were raised at the Saolta briefing last week, which included the urgent need to build a new ED at GUH and the fact that a 30-bedded acute medical unit has been commissioned, while a new 75-bedded ward block is due to be completed by the end of 2016.
Deputy Murphy fears, however, that this may be a case of “fighting fire with fire” as he noted that the 75-bed ward block that is near completion in Galway University Hospital is in reality only going to provide 25 new beds.
“The simple fact is that an existing 50-bed unit was remodelled to be able to provide single ensuite occupancy levels so in reality it’s only going to provide 25 new beds,” Deputy Murphy said.