The emergency department in University Hospital Galway is not fit for purpose in this day and age, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told the Dáil.
“The staff work under extraordinary conditions,’’ he added. “It is one of the most inadequate facilities in the country and needs to be replaced.’’
He said he was not aware of the stage of design of a new department and the HSE had to send in it service plan to Minister for Health Leo Varadkar shortly.
“It is very necessary that this piece of infrastructure be provided,’’ he added.
Mr Kenny made his remarks during heated exchanges with Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams in the Dáil on Wednesday.
Mr Martin said everybody from the north-west and across the western seaboard must go to Galway University Hospital.
“The community nurses I met say people out in the community are begging them not to be sent to the emergency department in the hospital because of circumstances and conditions,” he added.
Mr Martin said replacing the emergency department was not included in the capital plan.
Mr Kenny said a capital programme was subject to a mid-term review.
Mr Adams also raised the case of a six-month old baby who spent eleven hours in the emergency department of Cork University Hospital.
Mr Kenny said he expected the hospital management to respond to the HSE and the Minister on the issue.
“I am glad the little child is recovering well,” he added. “I am sorry that she was on a trolley for those hours.”
Staff in the emergency department at University Hospital Galway will be among those taking part in planned industrial action by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) later this month in protest at overcrowding.
The INMO said that the first day of industrial action,scheduled for Tuesday, December 15th, would involve its members in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin; Mercy University Hospital, Cork; Tallaght Hospital, Dublin; Cavan General Hospital; Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore; University Hospital Galway and University Hospital, Waterford.
The INMO told members the initial industrial action in each of the 7 hospitals, would involve a two- hour work stoppage, at different locations on a rolling basis across the day from 8.00am and 4.00pm.
It said further days of strike action involving other hospital emergency departments were scheduled for mid- and late-January 2016.