The Labour Party’s former spokesperson on health has said it was “inconceivable” that a region with a population of 361,000 could be left without 24-hour emergency hospital cover.
The junior minister at the Department of Foreign Affairs was reacting to reports that the emergency department at the Mid Western Regional Hospital faces closure at night time from next month because of a shortage of doctors.
It has been reported the chairman of the hospital’s medical board, Dr Sandy Fraser, recently informed HSE boss Cathal Magee that patients attending the emergency department from July 1 may have to be diverted to either Cork or Galway during night-time hours due to a shortage of non- consultant hospital doctors.
In a HSE statement, a spokesperson described the recruitment of non-consultant hospital doctors as a “challenging national issue”.
“We continue to work through the process in terms of recruitment campaigns at national and international level,” the statement read.
“The public can be assured that the issue is receiving attention at the highest level and we are engaged with all the parties including the medical colleges which oversee the training of junior doctors, the Medical Council, the Department of Health and Children and the Minister for Health,” it continues.
The spokesperson added the recruitment process has not concluded and insisted “every avenue is being explored”.
“Other measures can be employed if required, such as the redeployment of doctors within the Mid Western acute hospitals group,” it concludes.
The minister said the real issue at the hospital was staffing and said the recruitment moratorium should be broken if needs be.
She plans to discuss the crisis with the Minster for Health today.