Call for reduction in number of hospital emergency departments

10 emergency departments do not have 24/7 emergency consultant cover

Call for reduction in number of hospital emergency departments

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The Irish Association of Emergency Medicine says Ireland needs to have fewer hospital emergency departments.

The suggestion comes as it was revealed that 10 of the country's 29 emergency departments do not have 24/7 emergency consultant cover.

Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Billy Kelleher, who obtained the information, described it as "extremely worrying and unacceptable".

The figures were released to the party through a parliamentary question.

Deputy Kelleher said: "I am extremely worried by this new revelation. These figures confirm serious deficiencies in emergency cover in our hospitals.

"In fact, a shocking 10 out of 29 emergency departments nationwide do not have a named consultant in Emergency Medicine available and clinically accountable on a 24/7 basis."

The 10 hospitals in question are:

  • Mercy University Hospital Cork
  • Kerry General Hospital
  • Midland Regional, Mullingar
  • Midland Regional, Portlaoise
  • Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan
  • Portiuncula Hospital
  • South Tipperary General Hospital
  • St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny
  • Wexford General Hospital
  • Mayo General

"This is not acceptable and cannot be best patient safety practice. These figures come on foot of recent rationalisation reports and will raise serious concerns about the future of certain Emergency Departments," Mr Kelleher added.

Fergal Hickey of the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine, a consultant in emergency medicine in Sligo, said we need to reduce the number of departments to make sure they are run properly.

"What we have is a legacy issue - so we have 29 emergency department for a population of 4.7 million, which is far too many," he told Newstalk Breakfast.

"Many of those departments really don't meet the criteria for what would be described as an emergency department in 2016 - and one of the difficulties some of them have is that they don't have the staffing resource which is required.

"It's not about rurality - it's about the fact that these departments have not developed in the way that they should for 2016...that has been just the way things have developed.

"We need to face up to the fact that we have too many emergency departments, so we need to reduce those numbers so they can be staffed at the appropriate level."