Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Questions (105)

Richard Boyd Barrett


105. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health if he will respond to recent reports of a significant deterioration of services in St. Vincent's hospital, Dublin 4, particularly in accident and emergency services, following the downgrading of the 24-hour accident and emergency unit in Loughlinstown hospital, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14906/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The acute hospital service in HSE Dublin South East/Wicklow is provided through a collaborative arrangement across three sites, St. Vincent's University Hospital, St. Michael's Hospital and St. Columcille's Hospital. Work on reconfiguration of clinical services across these hospitals has been ongoing for some time, to bring service provision in line with best practice. As part of the reorganisation of services in this region, in November 2013, the emergency service at St Columcille's transferred to St Vincent's. In addition, St Columcille's opened a Local Injury Unit, open from 8am to 6pm, 7 days per week, and a consultant led Medical Assessment Unit, also open from 8am to 6pm, 7 days per week. Separating out the Local Injury Unit from the Emergency Department means that patient flow is improved within and between these hospitals.

Following this reconfiguration of services a redistribution of workload from the Emergency Department in St Columcille's was expected and planned for. During the planning phase it was acknowledged that there would be a three to six month phase while the new patient care pathways bedded down, and local patients and General Practitioners became familiar with the new arrangements. The patient flow between the hospitals is being monitored on an ongoing basis and has been reviewed and amended as required in the light of experience. I am advised by the HSE that St Vincent's Hospital Emergency Department is being appropriately managed, and is clinically safe. Staffing levels are kept under review to ensure that the staffing is appropriate to the volume of patients attending the Emergency Department. An analysis of the activity in St Vincent's Emergency Department for the period post reconfiguration shows that patient experience times remain favourable by comparison with other hospitals. There fewer people on trolleys and patient experience times continue to be among the best in Dublin.

I must emphasis that the rationale and policy context for implementing the change to emergency services is to provide a safer environment for patients and to ensure that patients receive the appropriate treatment in the appropriate setting. I would like to commend management and clinicians in the region who are committed to these changes in the interest of best possible patient care.

Question No. 106 answered with Question No. 101.