Dáil debates

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions


12:20 pm

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank Deputy Harkin for raising this important question and raising SUH again in the Dáil. She has raised this matter many times in the House and has spoken to me offline about it as well.

According to the HSE this morning, there are seven patients on trolleys in the emergency department in Sligo, but it has been much higher on other and, indeed, in recent days. I acknowledge the Deputy’s point that ten people on trolleys in a small department, such as Naas or Portiuncula, for example, is worse than ten in a very large department, such as, for example, St. James’s or St. Vincent’s.

The Deputy makes a valid point and I acknowledge it.

With regard to short-term actions, the HSE is currently preparing its comprehensive winter plan. That will include bespoke local plans for Sligo University Hospital and the community healthcare area of which it is part. It is being finalised and will be brought to the Government very shortly. In the meantime, funding has been provided for actions to take place this year. These include GP and out-of-hours support, the extension of the local injury unit operating hours, transition-care funding and short-stay respite services. Across the country, the HSE has been instructed to recruit an additional 51 emergency medicine consultants, including on a locum basis, if necessary.

Attendances in Sligo have been very high relative to the predicted range for September. The HSE is acting to alleviate congestion by prioritising diagnostics to get people discharged more quickly and also by using day services. Elective services have been pared back to six beds over recent months, unfortunately, but that was necessary.

In the past two years, additional capacity, including 41 public intermediate care beds, has been provided to Sligo. There has been an extension of the emergency department, which has provided a new reception area, a Covid assessment area, separate adult and child waiting rooms, a new nurse triage area and an ambulance arrival area, which opened back in January.


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