Taoiseach urged to intervene over capacity issues at Portiuncula Hospital

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Denis Naughten TD has called on An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to intervene over capacity issues at Portiuncula University Hospital.

He said that plans for a new emergency department as well as additional bed capacity at the hospital must proceed without further delay.

Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, Naughten told the Taoiseach: “In June 2020 I wrote to the then Minister for Health, the chief executive of the HSE and the Secretary General of the Department of Health, pointing out the desperate situation in Portiuncula.”

At that point, the hospital had lost one in ten of its beds due to the pandemic.

He said that the hospital had put forward a proposal seeking two modular buildings, one of which was to provide the space needed in its emergency department to deal with the present demands being placed on it.

“Yet, 31 months later we are still awaiting a decision from HSE estates, as an average of 22 patients a day lie on trolleys in the hospital.

“We need to proceed with this modular emergency department as a matter of urgency Taoiseach and I’m asking for your intervention,” said the Roscommon-Galway TD.

He pointed out that analysis of the numbers of patients waiting on trolleys to date in 2023 as a percentage of the number of beds in each hospital shows that Portiuncula Hospital – with just 157 beds and an average of 22 patients on trolleys each day this year – has a 40% greater demand on it beds than the headline grabbing Limerick University Hospital and a whopping 325% greater demand on beds than UHG.

He added that this should not come as a surprise “because not one additional bed has been put into the hospital since the emergency department was closed at Roscommon Hospital in 2011, even though Portiuncula has taken on the bulk of the Roscommon referrals.”

“The second modular building sought by the staff at Portiuncula was to facilitate the relocation of the outpatient department from the main hospital and to then convert the old outpatient space into single isolation beds to help replace the lost capacity due to the Covid reconfiguration.

“This was to be completed as part of the 2020/21 winter initiative, but these beds won’t be available to the hospital until next summer.

“A 50-bed ward block is being constructed at Portiuncula Hospital thanks to Minister Harris’ intervention on my behalf, but these are only replacement beds and our hospital system need more beds.

“Now again, at my instigation, provision has been made to facilitate a further 50 bed ward block at the hospital, and I’m asking that plans are now expedited to proceed with this extension while the builders are still on site.”