Group disputes mortality figures at Roscommon

Tuesday 12 July 2011 22.58
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Protests - Locals furious over emergency dept decision
Protests - Locals furious over emergency dept decision
Enda Kenny - Made promise 'in good faith'
Enda Kenny - Made promise 'in good faith'

Roscommon Hospital Action Committee has accused Minister for Health James Reilly of misleading the public about the death rate at the hospital.

Minister Reilly had told the Dáil that the mortality rate at Roscommon County Hospital was 21% for coronary cases over the last three years.

However, the committee has obtained figures that it says show an overall mortality rate of between 3.5% and 6% at the hospital over the last three years.

A consultant physician, who worked at the hospital for over 30 years, has called on Minister Reilly to withdraw claims he made that the mortality rate for coronary patients at the hospital is four times higher than it is in other acute hospitals.

Dr Patrick McHugh, who retired last year but is working as a locum consultant in the hospital this week, said he has thoroughly checked the hospital records and found that the actual rate is closer to 5% - the same as that in most other acute hospitals.

He has asked Dr Reilly for an apology and says that he and the staff at the hospital have been humiliated by what was said in the Dáil last week.

A spokesman for the minister stood over the figures and said that they were quoted in the Dáil after the Health Service Executive had made its decision on Roscommon.

He said the decision to close the emergency department had been based on two HIQA reports and not on these figures.

In the Seanad, medical consultant and Independent Senator John Crown said he does not believe the data from Roscommon hospital on which the Government based its decision to close the emergency unit is correct.

He also said he did not believe that HIQA had even inspected the hospital.

Senator Crown said the figures for the mortality rate in particular were wrong according to his own inquiries.

The emergency department closed at 8am yesterday and was replaced with a minor injuries unit for adults only.

A special meeting of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party has been called to discuss the issue of services at local hospitals. Dr Reilly is due to address the meeting tomorrow afternoon.

Opposition leaders criticise Taoiseach

There have been heated exchanges in the Dáil today as the fallout from the removal of the emergency department at Roscommon continues.

The Taoiseach has again defended comments he made before the election regarding the hospital, saying they were made in good faith and based on the knowledge he had at the time.

Enda Kenny repeated that he was enunciating Fine Gael party policy as it was then.

He also said he could not stand over a situation where the emergency department would continue to operate despite HIQA saying it was unsafe.

Mr Kenny said the hospital has a real future and was not being closed.

Fianna Fáil leader said Mr Kenny misled the Dáil last week when he said he had not made promises to maintain services at the hospital.

Micheál Martin said the Taoiseach was 'caught out' when a tape of his comments emerged last weekend.

The Sinn Féin leader said the handling of the issue by the Taoiseach was the worst example of the old way of doing politics.

Gerry Adams said that the way to deal with an unsafe hospital is to make it safe.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins said the Taoiseach had engaged in a cynical betrayal of the people of Roscommon.

He also said it was pathetic that Mr Kenny was using HIQA as an alibi to now argue that the department had to close.

Mr Higgins referred to the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Minister for Health as the 'Roscommon Three'.

He also said the Minister for Health was guilty of a palpable falsehood when he gave incorrect information about mortality rates at the hospital.

Mr Kenny described Mr Higgins' contribution as a political rant.