Reopening Roscommon A&E ‘pie in the sky’, says consultant

Dr Liam McMullen apologises to FG TD who was ‘politically destroyed’ over closure

Frank Feighan TD (right) at the Roscommon hospital protest outside Leinster House. Photograph: The Irish TImes

Frank Feighan TD (right) at the Roscommon hospital protest outside Leinster House. Photograph: The Irish TImes

 

A hospital consultant has warned voters not to believe any election candidate or political party claiming the emergency department would be reopened at Roscommon Hospital.

Dr Liam McMullen also apologised to outgoing Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan, who he said had been unfairly vilified over the closure.

Dr McMullen, a consultant at Roscommon Hospital, said it was “pie in the sky” to believe the emergency department would be restored. “Even for Irish politics this is a new level of abject cynicism. Voters should not be fooled,” he wrote in a Roscommon People letter.

He said any politician who promised to reopen the emergency department would need to find the money for three emergency consultants, two surgeons and a large number of ancillary staff. They would also have to fund a new intensive care unit and the expansion of the X ray unit.

Medical planning

“For a population of 70,000? No government of whatever hue will sanction this, either financially or on the basis of logical medical planning.”

He apologised to Mr Feighan, who he said had been unfairly “politically destroyed” and “politically vilified” in his support for the closure of the emergency department in 2011.

Mr Feighan announced in June that he would not be standing in the general election in the new Roscommon-Galway constituency. He acknowledged that Roscommon Hospital would always be associated with his name, but he defended the stance he took in 2011, saying it has since had a €20 million investment. “In the 4½ years since the A&E closed, there has not been one life lost. Dozens of lives have been saved because we introduced an air ambulance,” he told The Irish Times. “The only casualty has been my political career.”

Dr McMullen was a supporter of the closure of the emergency department which occurred in July 2011. It followed a Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) report which cited safety concerns.

In his letter to the Roscommon People he thanked Mr Feighan for his efforts in securing a twin endoscopy suite for the hospital. It was the type of development that should occur at a hospital like Roscommon but “the praise for him has been very muted”.

In the autumn of 2014, Dr McMullen wrote what he thought was a private email to the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar. However, on foot of a RTÉ Prime Time report, Dr McMullen wrote an email to Mr Varadkar criticising ambulance response times in the county.

He said it was difficult enough to explain the rationale behind the closure to people in Roscommon without having to defend ambulance response times which were supposed to improve when the emergency department closed. Those who had supported the closure on health grounds were being “thrown to the wolves”.