Fianna Fáil Health spokesperson Billy Kelleher has expressed concern over the lack of Emergency Consultant cover in one in three hospital Emergency Departments.

The figures, released to Fianna Fáil through Parliamentary Question, reveal that 10 hospitals across the country have no 24/7 consultant cover.

Deputy Kelleher commented, “I am extremely worried by this new revelation. These figures confirm serious deficiencies in emergency cover in our hospitals – in fact a shocking 10 out of 29 Emergency Departments nationwide do not have a named Consultant in Emergency Medicine available and clinically accountable on a 24/7 basis”.

The ten hospitals are
· Mercy University Hospital Cork
· Kerry General Hospital
· Midland Regional, Mullingar
· Midland Regional, Portlaoise
· Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan
· Portiuncula Hospital
· South Tipperary General Hospital
· St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny
· Wexford General Hospital
· Mayo General

“This is not acceptable and cannot be best patient safety practice. These figures come on foot of recent rationalisation reports and will raise serious concerns about the future of certain Emergency Departments. There is already widespread anxiety about the viability of some EDs and these figures will do nothing to appease these fears.

“It is notable that with the exception of the Mercy University Hospital in Cork, none of the others are the largest urban centres – you might almost get a sense of healthcare apartheid based on geography. Dublin hospitals are relatively well staffed with internationally trained Consultants whilst the midlands, Kerry and more rural areas do not have Consultant led Emergency Care at all.

“Efforts must be put in place to ensure that all these hospitals appoint a Consultant in Emergency Medicine, who is available and clinically accountable on a 24/7 basis, without delay. Some of the hospitals, such as Wexford and Kilkenny, have had significant investment in their Emergency Departments in recent years. It is simply wasteful not to staff them properly”.