Press Release

Patient safety is paramount – Minister Hoctor responds to HSE statement on plans for the Mid West Region.

Máire Hoctor TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, this week, said that the HSE plans for the integration and reconfiguration of acute hospital services in the Mid West Region are in the best interests of patient safety.

‘I am pleased to see that the HSE will make significant investment in providing six advanced paramedics with a fully equipped response vehicle for North Tipperary to ensure that patients most at risk in serious trauma situations, such as serious farm accidents, road traffic accidents etc., will be treated swiftly by fully trained advanced paramedics at the scene of the accident.’

‘This makes way for greater use of crucial time, where the advanced paramedics will directly accompany the patient at risk to the specialist team of consultants in Limerick. Additional consultants and accommodation must be in place in Limerick and I welcome the fact that an additional emergency operating theatre is practically ready for use in Limerick at this early stage.’

The low figures of people seeking accident and emergency care in Nenagh, ie. approx seven people, between 8pm and 8am where six out of the seven come without a GP referral and could be dealt with by the out of hours Doctor service which is proving unsustainable into the future. It does not make sense to have a full functioning staff complement with a low demand where on average, in both Nenagh and Ennis, one emergency surgical case takes place out of hours per week. Hence, the opportunity for upskilling and constant practice afforded to the staff is minimal.

‘I am pleased to received the assurance that access to Nenagh Hospital for GP referred medical and surgical emergencies will continue at Nenagh on a 24 hour basis with surgical emergencies being centralised to Limerick in Autumn 2009.’

‘We must acknowledge that the changes will not take place immediately but within certain time frames, subject to staff and GP agreement.’ adds the local Minister. ‘The fact that an audit and evaluation of services will continue on an ongoing basis is extremely important and very welcome’.

‘I have stressed to the HSE that the services must be clearly in place in Limerick before any changeover occurs from the current services in Nenagh’ says Minister Hoctor.

‘It must also be said that 95% of the services which are carried out in Nenagh hospital presently will continue in Nenagh in the long term’.

Minister Hoctor claims that with additional day surgery at Nenagh Hospital in the future, the Regional hospital in Limerick may expect to shed a lot of the elective (planned) surgery cases where Nenagh will expand on both diagnostic and smaller surgical work.

‘The introduction of the endoscopy suite at Nenagh Hospital, together with two state of the art operating theatres to the cost of €14m will be key to this and these developments are essential components of the enhancement of services at Nenagh. Under the plans the majority of patients will be safely managed locally with treatment being delivered at home or as close to home as possible. ”

The Minister said:“The Government is committed to ensuring the delivery of the best quality health services possible, in an effective and efficient way. Ensuring patient safety is of paramount importance, so that people can have confidence in the services and that the best possible patient outcomes can be achieved. It is essential that patient safety and quality are prioritised and that services are organised and managed accordingly. The HSE plans for the Mid West Region aim to ensure that these objectives can be met and that the highest quality of care can be delivered to the population of the region.”

The Minister noted a number of reviews have been undertaken in relation to how acute hospital services should be organised, including the Teamwork/Howarth Report in relation to the Mid-West, which she said was one input to the development of the HSE plans for the region.

The Minister added ” I particularly welcome that the HSE Mid West Project Group, under the Project Director, Mr Paul Burke, Consultant Surgeon, has been engaged in a consultation process with key stakeholders in developing the plans as the Government is committed to ensuring that the approach to re-organisation of health services is carried out in consultation with all interested parties.”

‘I am pleased to learn that Dr. Paul Burke and his team will meet with the interested parties in the coming days to allay some of the unfounded fears which often find their source in political spin which unfortunately may distract from the paramount issue in this, which is greater patient safety’ concludes Minister Hoctor.