Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher has said the increase in pressure on hospitals arising from the decision to close the 24-hour Accident and Emergency unit at Roscommon County Hospital is still causing huge concerns in Roscommon, Leitrim and Sligo. 

Deputy Kelleher said: “It’s now one year since Enda Kenny stood before the people of Roscommon and pledged to ‘protect and defend’ Roscommon County Hospital but within weeks the Fine Gael and Labour Government performed what was to be one of its most spectacular and cynical u-turns.  The Accident and Emergency unit was closed and replaced with a 12-hour Urgent Care Unit.” 

“12 months on from that decision hospital services in the region are under pressure and will likely suffer again as a result of public sector retirements.  The public are rightly concerned about their local health services and Fine Gael and Labour’s blatant cynicism has done nothing to ease their concerns. 

“Enda Kenny brazenly told the people of Roscommon during the election campaign: ‘you know down in the Accident and Emergency Unit what it takes and what needs to be done, and what can be done in your own local hospital here. And we will protect and defend that.’

“It would later emerge, despite Government claims that the decision to close Roscommon A&E was based on a HIQA recommendation, that HIQA inspectors never visited the hospital or carried out a report on its safety standards. 

“Such was his contempt for the people of Roscommon the Taoiseach never acknowledged that he misled the Dáil and the people on his promises to retain a 24/7 A&E facility at the local hospital, even describing criticism of his actions as ‘pathetic’. 

Deputy Kelleher concluded: “In December the Minister for Health announced that Galway University Hospital, together with Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe and Roscommon were to be placed within a single management structure with a single CEO responsible for the group.  The Minister should make himself available to the Dáil this week to report on the progress of this plan.”