ON SITE Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, TD, is pictured on his visit to the Covid-19 testing centre at MacHale Park in Castlebar last week speaking with, from left, Christina Murphy (HSE Covid Test Centre), Rebecca Smith (HSE Covid Test Centre) and Peter O’Malley (Clinical Lead Co-ordinator, Covid Test Centre, Castlebar). Pic: Michael McLaughlin
Stephen Donnelly vows to act on ‘powerful’ coverage of patient stories
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has expressed his sorrow for what he described as the heartbreaking stories emerging from Mayo University Hospital in recent weeks. In an exclusive interview with The Mayo News the minister said incidents being highlighted by this newspaper were being taken extremely seriously by the HSE.
The minister, who was in Mayo to visit the Covid-19 vaccination centre in Breaffy and the testing centre in MacHale Park, said he would be immediately assessing what can be done to improve health care in the county.
“I met my colleagues Dara Calleary and Lisa Chambers this morning and we talked through some of the issues for health care in the hospital and throughout Mayo, to see what more we can do in the short and long term.
“I will continue the discussions with Dara and Lisa in the coming days and weeks as we look to the estimates and the National Service Plans to see what more can be done for Mayo,” he added, before commending The Mayo News for highlighting the issue.
“I read the articles in The Mayo News and they’re truly heartbreaking. My thoughts are with the young man featured this week [lead story, August 24 edition], his family and all others featured in recent weeks. May I say the journalism was superb. The coverage in the paper is important, powerful stuff for the people of Mayo and everyone involved.
“The hospital and the HSE will take it very seriously, and I’ve seen some of the response from the HSE already. They’re under sustained pressure and they’ve referenced Covid, the cyber attack and deferred care. However, incidences such as these should not happen. I’ve no doubt the hospital will be looking at these incidences very closely,” he stated, before commenting on the positive aspects of MUH.
“The Mayo hospital is a fantastic health care facility, and Dara, Lisa and myself have discussed it at length and repeatedly, and they’re exceptionally strong advocates for more health-care resources for Mayo,” the minister said.
New Emergency Department
wThe Mayo News pressed the minister on when will the long-awaited new Emergency Department will be built in Castlebar. “I want to talk to local representatives, and I want to see the submissions coming in from the HSE, because the people who can answer that question best are the hospital group, the hospital themselves and the lead clinicians.
“I want to get a very good sense of the type of facilities they want to see. A lot of the time it’s about facilities in the hospital itself, whether that’s additional beds, additional diagnostics, whatever it may be… And at the same time, some of the things we’ve done to help the hospital have been outside, such as a big increase in home-care packages, which allows people to be discharged.
“I want to sit down with the hospital group, with the hospital itself and with Lisa and Dara, and really tease this out in a very serious way. I want to identify the pinch-points, target the investment there to enable the patients flow through in the way they should,” he continued, before encouraging people not to lose faith in their local hospital.
“To the people of Mayo, what I would say is the HSE are totally committed to providing the best possible healthcare, both at acute level in the hospital, and in community and social care, and of course there’s a very strong community of general practice. Part of my job is to work with the HSE to join the dots as well as possible, and that’s what we will do in the very near future.”