Staff shortages at hospital ‘putting lives at risk’

Council meeting on Friday  A special meeting of Roscommon County Council will take place this Friday (11th of April) at which the possible threat of closure of the A&E Dept. at Roscommon County Hospital will be discussed.    The meeting takes place at 11 am. It is understood that the Council’s representatives on HSE West, Cllrs. Tony Ward, Eugene Murphy and Charlie Hopkins will report to their colleagues on discussion they held in recent days with Mr. Alan Moran of the HSE. It is understood that the councillors have a letter from Mr. Moran which will be read at the meeting.    Meanwhile Fine Gael Deputy Denis Naughten has this week described the under-resourcing of staff that led to the accident and emergency department at Roscommon County Hospital being taken off call for all GP referrals and ambulance admissions on Tuesday of last week as ‘the beginning of the downgrading of services’. ‘Such a practice of taking the hospital off call to ambulances and GP referrals is putting lives at serious risk,’ stated Deputy Naughten, ‘especially those who may have suffered a stroke or heart attack or who have been involved in a road traffic accident.’  It is understood that the situation occurred as a result of staff shortages due to nursing staff being out sick. ‘As a result of the HSE ban on recruitment many nurses are now working in situations where they are two or three staff members short at times, this is placing huge pressure on nurses and leading to difficulties when any nursing staff call in sick. It’s clear the under-resourcing of the county hospital is only the beginning of the downgrading of services there,’ said Deputy Naughten, speaking at a meeting of the Fine Gael party in Athleague on Thursday evening last.  ‘On Monday morning, April 7th April, councillors who are members of the HSE forum met to discuss the report on the review of services at the hospital. It is my understanding that this report will recommend the transfer of in-patient surgery to Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, and as a result the downgrading of the accident and emergency and intensive care units in Roscommon County Hospital.  ‘Other steps have also been taken that are putting huge pressure on the County Hospital, including the removal of two weeks respite care in a nursing home for patients who are being discharged from the hospital while at the same time the HSE has withdrawn the home help and home care packages. These measures are forcing elderly people to remain for unnecessarily long periods in acute beds in Roscommon hospital. ‘The objective behind this is to put pressure on existing staff resources and to reduce the throughput of patients and the number of surgical procedures carried out to support the HSE plan for downgrading.  ‘In addition, Cllr. Domnick Connolly informed the meeting in Athleague last week that laboratory samples previously analysed in Roscommon County Hospital are now being sent to Portiuncula Hospital for analysis which is a further step in the running down of services in Roscommon,’ concluded Deputy Naughten.