I thank the Cathaoirleach for allowing this motion on the Adjournment and I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Cannon, for coming to the House to take it.
Concerned constituents have brought to my attention their fears for the future of services at Roscommon County Hospital and the staff changeovers due on 11 July. It is vital the Minister, Deputy Reilly, clarifies this issue immediately. It is unacceptable to me that services at Roscommon County Hospital would be withdrawn. It is unacceptable that the accident and emergency service would only be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily and close from 5 p.m. on Friday until 8 a.m. on Monday. It is essential that accident and emergency services are available at Roscommon County Hospital on a 24-7 basis, as has been the case up to now. It is to be hoped the HSE suggestions in this regard will be overruled by the Minister.
Prior to the election, the Minister said that safety was not simply about surgical competence but also about timely access. Timed treatment, especially to remote geographical locations, is crucial. I wish to quote an extract from a pre-election commitment of the Minister:
This is key to allowing Roscommon Hospital, which does not have complex surgery, to retain the skillset required to incubate and ventilate and to have the ability to undertake less complex surgical procedures ... Furthermore, in the event of the A&E being downgraded, we are committed to reinstating a 24/7 service, where feasible ... To again reiterate, our core principle regarding health is that the patient be safely treated as close as possible to their home and Roscommon County Hospital is an integral part of this objective.
I hope the Minister of State will confirm that Roscommon County Hospital will retain its 24-hour, seven-day a week accident and emergency unit. This is crucial and is the most important issue in the constituency of Roscommon-South Leitrim, as it was when I was a Minister of State who successfully retained those services in the 1980s.