The reduced hours service at the Local Injuries Unit in Nenagh Hospital last Friday have been criticised by Deputy Michael Lowry.
The HSE said that UL Hospitals had to restrict the opening hours from 1pm until 7pm because of the sudden non-availability of medical staff.
They said ULH had undertaken every action possible to secure a suitably qualified doctor for the full shift but was only been successful in covering restricted opening hours.
The unit returned to normal hours - 8am until 8pm seven days per week - on Saturday.
Deputy Lowry criticised the HSE for “mismanagement and lack of forward planning” and said that the unit operated on drastically restricted hours as a result of staff shortages.
“It is hugely embarrassing for the HSE that this service was so drastically reduced simply because a medic simply didn’t turn up. Such a situation should never have occurred as the HSE should have been aware of this issue in advance and taken steps to secure appropriate cover,” said Deputy Lowry.
He said that Nenagh Hospital was a fantastic facility that had seen massive investment and improvements in recent years. “As part of my agreement with the last Government I secured a substantial investment package for Nenagh General Hospital. I fought for and insisted this funding be provided to secure the future of the hospital. Since securing this investment package the throughput at Nenagh Hospital and those availing of its services has increased by 40 per cent. It is now a thriving, bustling successful healthcare centre and is continuing to grow and expand. It is grossly unacceptable to have such an important unit in this state-of-the-art facility sitting idle on any given day and I am calling on the HSE to ensure that this situation never arises again,” said Deputy Lowry.
He said that what happened in Nenagh was symptomatic of what was happening right across the health service.
“Health services across Tipperary are grossly understaffed and in chaos at present, and it is the public that are suffering. Staff shortages are putting incredible pressure on core staff and resulting in massive delay for patients. There have been vicious cuts across the board, and despite the best efforts of staff on this ground this is reflected in the quality and level of services being provided to patients in Tipperary,” he said. “Steps need to be taken immediately to resolve this situation. The HSE and the IMO need to co-operate to find a solution. Nenagh Hospital and its patients should not suffer as a result of aggravation and tension between the IMO and the HSE.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Seamus Morris has lodged a motion with Nenagh Town Council calling for the unit to be opened for longer hours over the busy summer sports season. He maintains that minor injuries increase over the playing season and rather than send injured players to Limerick where they may have to wait hours to be seen, it would be better to treat them in Nenagh.