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Cutbacks at Mayo General ‘risk lives’

Mayo General cutbacks ‘risk lives’

Anton McNulty

The closure of Roscommon General Hospital’s Accident and Emergency department has resulted in a two-fold increase in patient numbers at Mayo General Hospital. Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary believes this situation, coupled with imminent cutbacks at the hospital, is putting patients’ lives at risk.
The HSE is to close ten orthopaedic beds and one in four surgical wards at Mayo General, while a further 12 surgical beds are to be converted for day procedures as part of cost-saving measures. The hospital currently has a spending overrun of almost €6 million up to the end of the month.
Dara Calleary was told about the local impact of national cuts in the health budget during a meeting with HSE West officials last week. Following the meeting, the Ballina-based deputy expressed his concerns about patient safety.
“Mayo General Hospital is already under severe pressure, particularly since the closure of the A&E in Roscommon. The number of admissions Mayo General’s Emergency Department doubled between July 2011 and July 2012 and waiting times have increased significantly.  Much of this is directly down to the surge in patients travelling to Mayo for treatment because they’ve nowhere to go since the Government downgraded Roscommon Hospital.
“Mayo General Hospital is already €5.1 million in debt for the first half of this year and is on course to end the year with an overspend of €9 million. Despite the hospital’s best efforts, it is dealing with a surge in demand for its services due to the closure and downgrading of other facilities in this region over the past 18 months.
“I am urging the Government to reconsider these dangerous new cuts to our local health services, and to address the escalating funding crisis at Mayo General Hospital. It is abundantly clear that Mayo General simply cannot take any more blunt cuts to frontline resources and that patients’ lives will be put at risk,” he said.
Deputy Calleary laid the blame of the cutbacks at the feet of the embattled Minister for Health, James Reilly, who he said sanctioned these cuts.
“There is no doubt that these latest cuts will have a serious impact on patients in Mayo and there can be no justification for this,” said Deputy Calleary.
“Management at Mayo General applied to the Health Minister’s new Special Delivery Unit for help in tackling its soaring waiting lists. But they were denied any level of support. This raises further questions about what exactly Minister Reilly’s expensive SDU project is actually for, if not to address issues such as this at hospitals like Mayo General?”

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