Councillor Tomás Sharkey is exacerbated at the lack of progress in providing a second Primary Care Centre in Dundalk.
Cllr Sharkey said “Primary Care Centres are locations where many health professionals are available in the one location. In Dundalk we have one on the Alphonsus Road but we were promised one by former TD and Minister Dermot Ahern and also by Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick.
“I raised the issue once again with the HSE and the response indicates that we are in the same position as we were under the last Fianna Fáil government years ago.
“The response I received from the HSE indicates that there is no political commitment to the health of Dundalk people and certainly no urgency to provide important services.
“It is time for accountability on this matter. It is time for Deputy Fitzpatrick to deliver or get off the can.
Imelda Munster TD is outraged at recent HSE correspondence to haemochromatosis patients who attend the venesection clinic in Louth advising that from 1st September 2017 a charge of €80 per visit would begin with a maximum charge of €800 annually.
The Sinn Féin TD said: “Whilst medical card holders are exempt from this levy, it puts an unfair burden on people who have been diagnosed with this condition. The financial means of these patients are not taken into account, though they may be just over the limit required for access to a medical card”.
Imelda Munster explained that “Haemochromatosis is a life-long chronic illness and patients need regular venesections (the taking of blood) to keep their iron levels in check and to remain healthy.
“This charge of up to €800 a year could well prevent people from attending the venesection clinic which in turn will lead to patients potentially suffering from cirrhosis of the liver due to the build-up of iron, and other serious health problems.
“Given that this is a life-long chronic illness, it needs to be designated under the Long-Term Illness scheme. The health system doesn’t take into account a person’s ability to pay. The income thresholds for qualifying for a medical card are relatively low, and for people who sit just above that limit, this is an unfair and exorbitant charge.
“I have written to the Minister asking him to include haemochromatosis on the Long-Term Illness scheme so that people who require this ongoing treatment are not deterred from accessing it due to financial hardship. I hope that the Minister realises that this is an equality of access issue, and that the current situation is not fair for patients who are struggling to pay for this necessary treatment.”
Louth Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster has called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to explain why the Medical Assessment Unit at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda is closed on a frequent basis, given that the MAU was opened in the first instance to alleviate the overcrowded Emergency Department.
Deputy Munster said:
“We are stuck in the crazy situation where senior management at the hospital are closing the MAU regularly and sending patients back to the Emergency Department because they say the hospital is very busy. Just recently, the emergency department had to deal with the unprecedented number of 217 patients on one day, while the MAU was closed down by management.
“I contacted the HSE by email four times over four days last week to enquire about the closure of the MAU and they failed to respond. This raises even more questions, including the fact that the HSE are charged with delivery of our public health service and yet they appear to be a law unto themselves and chose to ignore queries from elected public representatives.
“Is it because they do not want the public to know the serious levels of mismanagement within our hospitals? Are they attempting to cover up such gross mismanagement? The Minister needs to hold the HSE to account, as to why they opened a Medical Assessment Unit at Our Lady of Lourdes due to the Emergency Department being so busy, and yet they regularly close it down because it is so busy and so they send patients back to the overcrowded and under staffed ED.
“The Minister also needs to enquire as to who is directly responsible for making the decision not to respond to queries from elected public representatives and the total lack of accountability with the HSE.”
Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster has called on the Taoiseach to publish the audit of St. John of Gods as soon as it is completed.
Deputy Munster said “Given the financial misappropriations that have come to light in recent years whereby money was taken from residents own bank accounts on numerous occasions to pay for medical devices that should have been supplied by St. John of Gods and other incidents where personal funds of a resident were used to buy cutlery, soft furnishings and a fireplace, we need the audit published.
“These shocking revelations have come to light and we still do not know the full extent of this practice.
“It is clear that there has been little or no detailed oversight or scrutiny by the HSE despite the fact that this large organisation has been given vast amounts of public money. It is also clear that the charity handed over almost €650,000.00 to a single executive to buy out a pension liability and at the same time saw fit to take money from resident’s personal bank accounts for medical devices and aids that they should have supplied to residents.
“The audit is currently being conducted on the finances of St John of Gods and I have asked the Taoiseach to give a commitment to publish the audit on completion, so the public can see the full extent of the financial misappropriations and irregularities and see exactly where and how the millions of taxpayer’s money has been spent”.
Sinn Féin President and Louth TD Gerry Adams described the HSE Service plan for 2017, which was published this week, as “deeply disappointing and insufficient to deal with the crisis in the health service and very directly for the provision of services in Our Lady of Lourdes and mental health provision in the constituency.”
Teachta Adams said:
“My colleague Louise O’Reilly TD recently received a breakdown from the HSE on the use of the full capacity protocol in hospitals across the state. This is the ‘last escalation step in the framework’ used when hospitals, and in particular emergency departments are under severe stress.
The report revealed that Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda has deployed its full capacity protocol 147 times between Jan 1st and November 16 of this year. That means that for almost half of this year (45%) OLOL required the application of the highest state of alert and co-ordination to meet the demands of its emergency department.
For the last two week’s trolley numbers across the state have significantly increased. On a daily basis there have been above 400 waiting in our emergency departments, including OLOL. This week those numbers were well above 500.
In addition, there is no comprehensive plan to ensure the implementation of the state wide maternity strategy; mental health services are only getting the additional €15 million outlined in the Budget which is not enough to provide the service needed and especially the new facilities required at Ladywell in Dundalk; nor is there any provision for additional home help hours which are especially needed in Louth to ensure that hospital beds are not filled as a result of delayed discharges.
The HSE plan will deliver nothing but a continuation of the chaos in our hospitals and the inequality that permeates throughout the health system.