Lowering of age limit for Louth County Hospital’s Minor Injuries Unit in doubt due to staffing issues
Louth TD Gerry Adams has expressed his concern that plans to reduce the age threshold for patients attending the Minor Injuries Unit at the Louth County Hospital to five could now be scrapped over staffing issues at the hospital.
Health Minister Simon Harris announced last November that the age limit for patients to be treated in Dundalk would reduce from 14 to five in February 2018.
This deadline has now passed with the Sinn Féin deputy pursuing the matter in the Dáil to find out why the Minister’s commitment had not been fulfilled.
It has now emerged that commitments to expand the service provided by the Minor Injuries Unit at the Dublin Road hospital are now in jeopardy.
A reply to Deputy Adams from the Department of Health said that the RCSI Hospital Group has advised that “due to unanticipated resignations, it has delayed the agreed start time”.
They further added that “while the Louth Hospitals continue to endeavour to recruit the compliment of staff that is required to establish a safe level of service, they are not in a position to provide an updated time frame at this time” as to when the
In a statement reacting to this today, Deputy Adams said: “Simon Harris came to Dundalk in November 2017 and announced that by February 2018 the Minor Injuries Unit at the Louth Hospital would begin seeing additional paediatric patients by reducing the current age threshold of 14 years old to 5 years old.
“In January I submitted a parliamentary question regarding the progress of this development and in response the RCSI Hospital Group, which runs health facilities in Louth, Meath and North Dublin, said: ‘It is envisaged that the Local Injuries Unit at the Louth County Hospital will be in a position to start seeing patients over five years of age with minor injuries in Quarter 2 2018. This change in practice remains dependent on staffing and appropriate staff mix.’
“I submitted a further parliamentary question this month and the RCSI Hospital Group now tell me that the agreed start time for this service will be delayed due to ‘unanticipated resignations.’
“Furthermore the response goes on to state that ‘while the Louth Hospitals continue to endeavour to recruit the compliment of staff that is required to establish a safe level of service, they are not in a position to provide an updated time frame at this time.’
“From these responses it is clear to me that there is a real threat that this expanded service for those over 5 years old may never become operational.
“I am shocked that the Minister for Health would make such a grand announcement without any of the necessary ground work being complete.
“I have asked the Minister for Health what recruitment campaign has been undertaken to ensure that the staff are in place to operate this service and I urge him to honour the commitments he has made to Dundalk.
“My colleague councillor Anne Campbell will also be raising this matter at the next meeting of the Dublin North East Regional Health Forum, at which representatives of the RCSI Hospital Group will be present.”