Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly Barry Cowen has raised serious concerns over the increase in delays for in-patient and out-patient services at the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore.

Deputy Cowen has written to Minister for Health Simon Harris to highlight the issue. The Fianna Fáil TD has requested that the HSE make the improvement of services at the hospital a top priority for 2017.

“Fianna Fáil provided massive investment to develop Tullamore Hospital while in Government. This targeted investment effectively led to the creation of a new hospital which has served the community well down through the years. Unfortunately Tullamore Hospital seems to have fallen off the agenda since Fine Gael came to power, and patients and their families are suffering as a result,” said Deputy Cowen.

“2016 was a very difficult year for Tullamore Hospital. A lack of resources put enormous pressure on services at the hospital and I am greatly concerned about its capacity to meet the challenges it faces in the year ahead. It’s clear that there has been a significant deterioration in the timely provision of care at Tullamore over the past number of years. Staff at the hospital have been expected to do more with fewer resources and this is now having a direct impact on the delivery of services.

“Figures made available by the Irish Nurses and Midwifery Organisation show that some 4,748 patients were on trolleys during 2016. This compares to 1,156 in 2013 which represents a staggering increase of 310% in the space of three years. Furthermore at the end of 2016 some 3,264 outpatient appointments had been outstanding for more than a year, with 961 patients waiting in excess of eighteen months.

“The difficulties at the hospital have also had an impact on those waiting for in-patient or day case treatment. 2,567 are waiting for such services with 466 waiting over 12 months. This clearly points to a major worsening in accessing services within a reasonable timeframe. I have serious concerns that the situation could worsen over 2017 should Minister Harris fail to act.

“It is critical that the HSE and the Department of Health make the improvement of services at Tullamore a priority in 2017. The hospital is already over-stretched and under-resourced and patients are suffering as a result of this. A change in direction is needed,” said Deputy Cowen.