The delay in implementing plans to improve services at Louth County Hospital has come in for criticism with one local councillor calling for immediate action to provide the promised facilities for local families.
Sinn Féin Councillor Anne Campbell has revealed that the planned reduction in the age limit for treatment at the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) at the Louth Hospital is already behind schedule, and has stated that the situation must be addressed in order to ease pressure on the already overstretched A & E in Drogheda.
In November 2017, Health Minister Simon Harris was visiting Louth and told Fine Gael politicians, that the reduction in age at the MIU, from 14 to 5 years, would happen in February this year.
Councillor Campbell, who is a member of the Regional Health Forum, pointed out this week, “that deadline is now well past. Minister Harris, during a visit to Louth, announced to great fanfare, his confidence that the MIU in Dundalk would see this reduction by February. The latest information I have received is that the age reduction will not now happen until some time in the second quarter of this year. This information was given to Gerry Adams TD following a Parliamentary Question.”
The response, from the RCSI Hospital Group which runs health facilities in Louth, Meath and North Dublin, says: ‘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’.
Cllr Campbell said: “I am very concerned at this delay and the fact that the RSCI have not even set a proper date for the age reduction despite the February deadline having already been missed.”
Cllr Campbell also pointed out that “with over-crowding an almost daily occurrence at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, this age reduction will give parents, like myself with children under 14, the ability to get their minor injuries treated in the first-class MIU in Dundalk. The longer the age reduction is delayed, the more pressure is being heaped on an already overstretched A & E in Drogheda not to mention the stress for parents worried about having to take their child to Drogheda with a minor injury.”
Cllr Campbell has called for the “RSCI to now make the age reduction their top priority in this area and to get the staffing they say they need in place – they have already had plenty of time. We want to see Minister Harris follow through on his promise albeit late in the day.”