Monaghan Hospital was promised a CT scanner as far back as 2004 by former health minister, Micheál Martin.
The HSE confirmed yesterday that a CT scanner was being kept in storage pending a decision about its future.
According to a report in the Irish Medical Times, the cost to the HSE of renting storage for the €500,000 scanner is €600 a week.
The medical journal also claimed that the additional cost of hiring a private ambulance and nurse for a patient travelling from Monaghan to Cavan to have a scan was €748.
Monaghan GP Dr Illona Duffy is concerned that a long period of storage will affect the quality of the machine’s scans.
“These machines are not made to be left unused,” she warned. “It is in storage for months now, reducing the chances of it ever being functional again.”
And while the machine might be packed in a box, it was not being kept in a controlled environment, she pointed out.
The scanner in storage had previously been installed at Cavan General Hospital and it was proposed to move the older one to Monaghan.
Cavan now has a new scanner with the latest technology that provides increased speed and improved detail.
The new scanner is capable of viewing moving heart vessels. It is also used in assisting a cancer diagnosis and treatment and virtual colonoscopy can now be accomplished without a scope.
Dr Duffy also said it now looked increasingly unlikely that the scanner would ever be moved to Monaghan because the retention of the hospital’s ventilation unit was now in doubt.
She also claimed that it was likely that Monaghan would have to go off-call in the next month or two if its ventilation unit was removed.
“Ultimately, we will not be able to accept emergency patients if we don’t have a ventilation unit,” she pointed out.
“Here again we have management deciding they want to remove a service and not discussing it with any of the doctors anywhere along the line,” she said.