Health Minister Simon Harris has a five-point plan to reduce waiting lists in hospitals.
On Monday he visited the Louth County Hospital in Dundalk and was welcomed to the town by his Fine Gael colleague Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick.
“Since I’ve been elected to the Dail,” Deputy Fitzpatrick said, “I have been working towards increasing the services in Louth Hospital.
“We have put pressure on the minister to provide funding to allow training for staff which in turn allow the minor injuries unit treat children under 14.
“The increase in services for minor injuries units was a pledge in the Programme for Government and I am delighted that is now going to happen at the Louth. From next year children under five will be treated at the Louth.”
Deputy Fitzpatrick believes that with this service expanded the Louth could help alleviate the growing crisis at the Lourdes which last week topped the national list of the number of people waiting for a hospital bed.
Deputy Fitzpatrick believes that one of the problems facing the Lourdes is the number of people going there, from north Louth, with minor injuries that could be treated at the Louth in Dundalk.
The former Louth senior football manager, now helps the Clans ladies football team in Dundalk.
In June, he attended a match at Stabannon in which a player became injured and had to be removed to hospital.
“Some people wanted to go the Lourdes,” Deputy Fitzpatrick said, “but I said, no, go to the Louth, which has the minor injuries unit. It proved to be a badly sprained ankle. The Louth is open seven days a week and it makes full sense to use it. The hospital is now busier than when acute A&E closed in 2010.
“But we need to get A&E back in the Louth and lifting the age restrictions at the minor injuries unit is the first step.
“At the Louth County Hospital all wards are open and fully operational. In fact the hospital has never been so busy.
“Unfortunately, many people are still unaware of the great services available in hospital and too many people are still going to the A&E in Drogheda, when in fact they could simply go to the minor injuries unit here in the Louth.”
“Currently there is an age restriction of 14 years in place at the unit at the Louth and Iit's great that this is going to be lifted, to allow the services in place at the hospital to be made available to all children.
Deputy Fitzpatrick also praised the the newly refurbished Diabetes Day Centre at Louth County Hospital which the minister was shown on his visit on Monday.
“This centre is now being utilised by people from all over the region,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
The new Diabetes Centre includes a number of clinic rooms and a large education room which ensures that a wide range of person-centred and co-ordinated services can be provided under one roof.
This new specialist centre is an important example of how the quality of services to people with diabetes living in the Louth area is being enhanced.
It’s staffed by a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals involved in the management of diabetes, including; diabetes nurse specialists, dietitians, and podiatrists.
The team aims to promote self-management for patients, while minimising the risk of developing diabetes-related complications.
Services include: Individual education and structured education programmes for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes and intensive management for patients who require support since their last diabetes clinic appointment.
A Pre-Pregnancy Care service offers women with diabetes specialist advice in planning a pregnancy which is essential to achieve the best possible outcome for both mother and baby.
On Monday, Minister for Health Simon Harris visited all the units at the Louth and clearly enjoyed meeting the people at the front.
This seems to be the way he wants to lead.
The Louth County Hospital certainly showed it has the expertise and commitment.
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