Thursday, 18 February 2021
Covid-19 (Drug and Alcohol Services, and Homelessness): Statements
Denis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
Last June I wrote to the predecessor of the Minister, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, pointing out that Portiuncula University Hospital, in Ballinasloe, was in a desperate situation because it had lost 10% of its acute hospital bed capacity due to Covid-19 reconfiguration. The hospital took a very proactive approach with regard to it and forwarded two very specific proposals to the HSE. The first was to develop two separate modular buildings - one for the accident and emergency department that would segregate Covid and non-Covid patients, and one to take the outpatient department out of the acute hospital and convert the old outpatient department into 13 single rooms. Currently, Portiuncula hospital, which is one of the biggest acute hospitals servicing the midlands, has only 13 single rooms. To compound that, it is down by 10% in terms of its bed capacity.
While funding has been forthcoming for the modular building for the outpatient department, refurbishment work has not taken place in the old outpatient department and funding has not been provided for the second modular building for the accident and emergency department. As a result, the hospital is operating at 10% below its capacity today, with just 13 single rooms, and is not in a position to manage the pandemic and the day-to-day challenges it is facing.
Thirty-six days ago here in the House I asked the Minister if funding will be provided to expedite the refurbishment of the old outpatient department. I also asked him if he would provide funding to ensure that we had a modular building to deal with the unacceptable situation we are currently experiencing in the accident and emergency department. On 13 January, the Minister said he would revert to me with the response with regard to that. I am still waiting on that response, and more than 130 patients in Portiuncula hospital have waited on trolleys overnight since the Minister gave me that response. Can I have a response today as to what is happening in Portiuncula hospital?