Patients and staff working in the Emergency Department at St Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire claim surgical cover in the department was removed two weeks before Christmas and has yet to be reinstated.
It is understood that patients who attend the department in need of surgery are referred to St Vincent’s Hospital on Merrion Road.
Richard Boyd Barrett TD (PBP) told Dublin Gazette he received phone calls from two sources inside the hospital “and one relative of a patient saying that the surgical cover in A&E had been withdrawn before Christmas” and “that all surgical patients are currently being forwarded to St. Vincent’s.”
When contacted for comment on the matter St Vincent’s Healthcare Group – the governing body of St Michael’s and St Vincent’s said “all surgical cover and services remain in place in St. Michael’s Hospital.
“All patients with a surgical condition attending A&E in St. Michael’s Hospital continue to be assessed by the surgical cover in the hospital.
“The ED has actually expanded, not been reduced, which is good news for the people of Dun Laoghaire and its surrounds.
“In certain instances, patients are redirected to the surgical unit in St. Vincent’s University Hospital. This is addressed on a case by case basis and is dependent on the clinical need of the patient at the time.”
However, a nurse working in the Emergency Department at St Michael’s told Dublin Gazette that no surgical consultant is currently scheduled to work at the hospital.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said that “this removal of the surgical cover at the A&E, if it is the case, would be absolutely detrimental to Dun Laoghaire and the wider area.
“St. Michael’s provide such a fantastic service to the people of Dun Laoghaire.
“Considering the current trolley crisis and with the disastrous situation that is going on across the whole health system, the withdrawal of the surgical cover or downgrading would be beyond comprehension and would have a major knock on impact on the already severe overcrowding in St. Vincent’s hospital.
“I have written to Minister Simon Harris and have asked him to look into this as a matter of urgency.”
Deputy Boyd Barrett says that the removal of the surgical cover in the department is a “very serious downgrading” despite what the HSE and St Vincent’s Healthcare Group are saying.
“Apparently, the staff in the hospital are very worried because if the consultant goes then certain associated jobs would go,” said Deputy Barrett.
“If you don’t have a consultant surgeon then you don’t need an anaesthetist, for example,” he said.
In 2007, the Sisters of Mercy, who founded the hospital in 1876, sold the car park located behind the hospital to developer Noel Smyth for reportedly between €20m and €30m.
At the time, Smyth had sought to develop 80 apartments and two shops on the car park site but planning permission was rejected by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.
After rumours circulated that the hospital site itself may be part of the sale, the health care group and the Sisters of Charity said they had no plans to dispose of the hospital “either by sale or site swap”, a spokesperson said.
Smyth currently has listed the car park site on the market for €6.5m.
Since 2007, the Emergency Department has run seven-day-a-week from 8am to 8pm.
When contacted for further comment, St Vincent’s Healthcare Group said its original comment still stands and that surgical cover is still in position at the Emergency Department at St Vincent’s.