Roscommon hospital figures disputed


The Department of Health has denied that Minister James Reilly used misleading figures about mortality rates at Roscommon hospital to support the decision to downgrade the hospital's accident and emergency unit.

The Roscommon Hospital Action Committee today said it had obtained figures which showed an overall mortality rate of between 3.5 per cent and 6 per cent at the hospital over the last three years.

The committee said this was significantly lower than what Dr Reilly last week told the Dáil. The Minister said that cardiac patients attending Roscommon hospital (at 21.3 per cent) had four times the mortality rate of those admitted to Galway University Hospital (at 5.8 per cent).

The accident and emergency department at Roscommon hospital closed at 8am yesterday and was replaced with a minor injuries unit for adults only. Emergency cases are being moved on to hospitals in Galway, Sligo and Mayo.

Committee chairman John McDermott said figures from the Hospital In-Patient Enquiry (Hipe) system, compiled for the HSE by the Economic and Social Research Institute over the last three years, showed the mortality rate was in line with other hospitals.

He said that Senator John Crown, a hospital consultant, had verified the figures and was happy that “at worst” Roscommon hospital had the same coronary death rate as Galway hospital.

“It brings into question the research on which Dr Reilly is basing the whole hospital reconfiguration programme on,” Mr McDermott said.

A spokesman for Dr Reilly said the cardiac mortality rate at Roscommon hospital was utterly separate from the decision to close the accident and emergency unit, which had been taken in advance of the figures being compiled.

The decision was based on two reports by the Health Information and Quality Authority, one from 2009 and one from April of this year, he said.

He said the figures being quoted by the Roscommon Hospital Action Committee did not compare like with like.

He said the Department of Health had analysed Hipe data from Roscommon hospital over the last three years and that the numbers quoted by Dr Reilly related to samples of 100 people presenting with heart attacks. They showed that 21.3 per cent of these patients died at Roscommon compared to 5.8 per cent in Galway. The numbers quoted by the committee looked at overall mortality rates.

The spokesman said outcomes for patients were proven to be better at higher volume hospitals.