Fianna Fáil Deputy Micheál Kitt has expressed his huge concern with the amount of HSE staff that will be lost in Galway at the end of this month.
Speaking in the Dáil this week, Deputy Kitt highlighted the many issues facing the health services in the West arising from the amount of staff due to retire.
Deputy Kitt commented: “One of the major issues that has arisen during this debate is that of staffing. It is deeply concerning that in Galway alone some 113 people, 56 of whom are nurses, will be leaving the HSE this month. This is giving rise to serious problems. For example, there is an issue with the provision of public nursing services in rural areas.
“Another serious issue which arises is that of home help services. Age Action Ireland has indicated that there has been a reduction of almost 500,000 in the number of home help hours since last year in the HSE West region. This is a massive decrease and equates to a cut of €105 million in monetary terms. Some 683 staff are set to retire across the region, which is huge. The HSE West director has stated a number of key challenges have arisen and that, in the light of the reductions in staff and funding to which I refer, he is going to have a difficult job in maintaining front-line services. These services in Galway and the West are under attack and immediate action needs to be taken.
Deputy Kitt also highlighted the fact that critical services for children are also being severely stretched.
“Some children are faced with a three year wait in order to receive vital dental treatment. In south-east Galway there is no dentist available between Loughrea and Portumna. Priority must be given to the provision of services of this nature for children.
“HSE West also plans to reduce its health budget by 5.2%. Obviously, orthopaedic services at Merlin Park Hospital in Galway have been hit as a result of this announcement. The number of beds in the orthopaedic ward at the hospital has been cut. In addition, there is a serious deficit of nursing staff in the operating theatres at University College Hospital, Galway. Patients presenting at the accident and emergency departments there and in Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe will have to wait longer in order to receive surgical care.
“I cannot understand how 15 beds have been lost at St Brigid’s Psychiatric Hospital in Ballinasloe, a town in which there is an acute hospital. I hope the Government will give consideration to these urgent issues. Health services in rural areas are under severe threat and many people who live in such areas do not have access to the services of home helps or public health nurses. I call on the Minister for Health to address this issue urgently and appoint staff to fill the huge vacancies in front line services throughout Galway.”