I want to draw the attention of the House to a serious situation where patients are travelling 70 miles three times a week for the use of a dialysis machine, in other words, there is no dialysis machine in Cavan General Hospital. This hospital cost £30 million to build but one ward has never been opened. The shortage of clerical staff means that it takes five weeks for consultants' assessments to reach GPs. Even a seriously ill person has to wait five weeks for a consultant's report because of clerical difficulties.
The hospital has been a great success and the number of admissions have increased, but there has been no corresponding increase in nursing staff. Medical wards 1 and 2 and the surgical wards should have 24 patients per staff member, but the ratio is 32 patients per staff member. In the accident and emergency unit, where up to 1,300 patients received medical attention during January this year, there are only two nurses on duty over a 24 hour period.
Finally, despite the approval of the health board, the ear, nose and throat unit has not been opened. This is a great national resource, this £30 million project, is not being utilised to its full potential. That should not be the case and minor expenditure would correct it.