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Concern raised over impact of new children’s hospital

Concerns that the new national children’s hospital (NCH) may impact Government plans to spend money on acute beds across the health service were raised at a recent Irish Association for Emergency Medicine (IAEM) meeting in the RCSI.

Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI) following his address to the meeting, Dr Fergal Hickey, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Sligo University Hospital, said the need for beds in the acute sector was clear.

He told MI that he was “hugely disappointed about how slow any improvements have been [in bed capacity]”.

Asked whether the political focus on the construction of the new children’s hospital may be impacting on investment on acute beds, Dr Hickey said he was concerned about the issue.

“I think there is a risk that the children’s hospital, and particularly the overspend that is associated with it, will limit the Government’s desire to commit to capital investment elsewhere,” Dr Hickey told this newspaper.

“This [ the insufficient number of hospital beds] is a matter of life and death of individual patients.

“The national paediatric hospital is nice to do, but probably isn’t as crucial from an individual patient’s risk point of view.

“It is a necessary project; it is project I fully support. But it can’t be one or the other; they need to move both [the NCH and acute hospital beds] in parallel.”

The IAEM meeting was organised on Friday 28 June in the RCSI to mark the 30th anniversary of the Association.

The meeting also focused on some of the challenges facing emergency medicine today. As well as the lack of beds, according to speakers, these challenges included recruitment and retention of doctors and access to diagnostics.

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