A delay in the construction of a new radiology unit in South Tipperary General Hospital has led to mounting fears about the level of risk to patients.
Because of the delay to build the unit, which was due to start in spring 2015 but has not even gone out to tender yet,South Tipperary General Hospital is relying on a thirteen year old scanner that regulary breaks down leading to deferral and transfer of patients.
The investment for the new radiology unit was announced in 2014 and the project,which includes a new CT scan service and the provision of accommodation for a proposed MRI, had a completion date of 2014.
This week Oireachtas opposition TDâ€™s hit out at the delay and calleld for an urgent resolution of the issue.
Independent TD Mattie McGrath called on the HSE and the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to immediately clarify the reasons why promised accommodation for radiology services at the hospital has been consistently delayed.
â€œIt has emerged that despite funding being approved to house a newly purchased CT Scanner in 2014, there is still no sign of construction work being undertaken.The provision of improved radiology services is certainly reaching a critical point and it must be addressed,â€ insisted Deputy McGrath.
Deputy McGrath said it was simply scandalous to realise that the current CT Scanner in South Tipp General has been in â€˜temporaryâ€™ accommodation since 2002 and has already reached its end of life following numerous breakdowns.
â€œI am informed that the current scanner now represents a major risk to the health and wellbeing of patients attending STGH such is the level of its disrepair.The staff are now reduced to having to scramble for spare parts to keep the current CT scanner in operation.This is simply outrageous,â€ said Deputy McGrath.
Deputy McGrath said the delay was completely unjustifiable, but also represented â€œan ad hoc approach to the lives of patients that is utterly unacceptableâ€.
Deputy McGrath said the patients of STGH deserve better than a radiology service than one which is essentially operating under the threat of constant mechanical failure.
Deputy Seamus Healy said the South Tipperary public were being deprived of quality radiology service by the failure of the Health Service Executive to build up to date accommodation and install modern C.T. scanning equipment at South Tipperary General Hospital.
â€œA sod has not been turned yet and indeed the work has not even gone to tenderâ€ said Deputy Healy.
.â€œDespite full co-operation by staff at the hospital the work has still not commenced or indeed gone to tender.
There is a particular urgency about his development as the existing scanner because of age - 13 years - and is prone to breakdowns and patients are being deferred and in some cases transferred.
The HSE must immediately fast track this development and provide a quality service to the people of South Tipperary,â€ said Deputy McGrath.
In a statement the HSE said planning permission was approved by Tipperary County Council for an extension to the hospital to accommodate a new CT scanner facility on the ground floor. A first floor in the extension is designed to accommodate acute hospital services. The second floor of the proposed structure is comprised entirely of plant room and ancillary related site works.Funding is in place for this development and the HSE is currently preparing a tender process. Construction is expected to begin in September of this year, with a completion date in the second half of 2016.The current CT Scanner machine at STGH is regularly serviced by Phillips. This company have recently worked with STGH to complete repairs as quickly as possible, in order to ensure minimal downtime .