Mayo University Hospital.PHOTO: ALISON LAREDO.

Health Minister's visit to Mayo hospital fuels fresh A&E rumpus

THE official visit by Health Minister Simon Harris to Mayo University Hospital (MUH) in Castlebar tomorrow has sparked a fresh rumpus over overcrowding and understaffing of the facility's accident and emergency unit.

A local member of the HSE West Forum, Councillor Michael Kilcoyne, said it would be 'beyond belief' if the minister failed to give a clear indication of how his department planned to resolve the crisis at the centre during his visit.

The shortcomings at the unit, along with the resultant impact on patient care, has been consistently highlighted by Councillor Kilcoyne.

In recent months, strong words of criticism were voiced by the Coroner for South Mayo, John O'Dwyer, before his retirement, and he also issued a call to his successor, when appointed, to maintain the pressure to improve patient care at the hospital.

The purpose of the minister's visit is to highlight positive developments taking place at the centre, including the commencement of long-awaited rheumatology services.

Minister Harris will also visit the construction site of the new extension to the Sacred Heart Hospital at 2 p.m. as well as Castlebar Social Services Centre where annual funding has been increased, much to the joy of service users and the community.

But ongoing problems at the A&E unit overshadow much of the positive developments that are taking place.

“Rarely a week passes without a complaint being made to me by a patient or their families. I am sick of raising it without results being forthcoming. The minister has to answer to the Mayo public on this extremely important matter, as has An Taoiseach Enda Kenny,” said Councillor Kilcoyne.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Minister for Health said the minister is visiting MUH and other healthcare facilities in Castlebar as part of his ongoing visits to hospitals and primary care facilities around the country.

'These visits give the minister an invaluable insight into the opportunities and challenges in our health system and, most importantly, it gives him the opportunity to meet with staff and patients to hear their views and experiences directly,' the statement added.

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