The need to progress plans for an extension to the Emergency Department of Mayo University Hospital was foremost in the list of improvements needed for the hospital, according to Mayo’s General Election candidates.
All 15 candidates were surveyed for their views on what improvements are needed at the hospital and there was broad consensus that there is an urgent need for an extension at the Emergency Department, plans for which have stalled at various stages in recent years.
“First and foremost we need an extension to our Emergency Department which has been promised for the last eight years,” said Fianna Fáil’s Castlebar-based candidate Lisa Chambers. “It was built to cater for 20,000 patients and now sees almost 40,000 annually, double its capacity. We need more bed capacity in the hospital to cater for a growing demand and we need more front line staff for the hospital,” she added.
Fine Gael’s Alan Dillon also listed the Emergency Department as one of the improvements he feels are needed.
“An extension to the Emergency Department to increase capacity and serve increased numbers going through; dealing with waiting lists which are causing a subsequent blockage in emergency or non-routine visits; recruiting consultants, doctors and nurses to deal with recruitment gaps and extra bed capacity,” he said.
Sinn Féin’s Rose Conway-Walsh also criticised delays in the extension of the Emergency Department.
“Eight years ago funding was promised for the extension of the Emergency Department of Mayo University Hospital. Where is it? This would alleviate the overcrowding of patients on trolleys. This must be backed up with additional nurses and front-line staff,” she said.
Paul Lawless of Aontú is critical of the value the Government are getting for investment in the HSE.
“The hospital is not given enough resources in terms of front line staff, beds and equipment. however this is a problem with the HSE and their inability to manage the health system. The Government are spending more money than ever on our health budget yet our waiting lists are increasing all the time. We need systematic change starting at the top so that front line serves can be given first priority,” he said.
Joe Daly of People Before Profit said the extension is needed while the hospital also needs ‘a fully functional, properly staffed 24 hour mental health unit for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services’.
Independent candidate Gráinne de Barra also said there was a need for better mental health services.
“We need specialist psych care available in times of mental health crisis, to provide expert care. Deep empathy is essential in supporting patients at their lowest point. People expressing suicidal thoughts should be admitted for 24 hours,” she said.
“The Emergency Department needs an extension, and we need more beds. Nurses need to be paid and supported more,” she added.
Gerry Loftus also criticised the delay in the upgrade of the Emergency Department and also said it was time for drastic action.
“I’m of the opinion that our health system needs outside help and we need to declare a health emergency and seek help from European countries who have top-level health systems,” he said.
Westport-based Minister Michael Ring said it was not as simple as finding funds and said there are structural issues in the HSE which must be addressed.
“It is not about funding anymore. We unveiled Sláintecare and everyone has come in behind it. The model now has to follow the HSE and see how they are spending the money. Every year since I have been in Government the HSE have run over budget.
Their structures really need to be assessed. To be fair to the hospital in Castlebar, they do a great job in the circumstances but there is no doubt health is an issue for people,” he said.