Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has called on the Minister for Health to stop squandering taxpayers’ money by delaying a decision on a new Dialysis Unit for Tallaght Hospital.

The Sinn Féin TD raised the issue in the Dáil today saying there is a severe lack of capacity for dialysis in the region. He questioned the Minister on the continued delays in a promised new unit, especially considering that the current unit is not able to meet demand, while millions of euros are being spent on private services.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Tallaght University Hospital is the regional centre of excellence for the Dublin Midlands hospital group and provides regional services such as 24-hour acute kidney dialysis care and home dialysis therapies. The crux of the problem is that Tallaght now has insufficient capacity to meet its growing demands. The hospital staff are doing fantastic and lifesaving work, but it is clear that the original unit has seen its day.

“The unit is clearly not HIQA compliant and because of the lack of space, it is open to cross-infection.  If the unit is not compliant with the Department of Health’s own infection guidelines, then there is a responsibility on them to fast track the building of a new unit.

“Dialysis activity at Tallaght Hospital has increased to more than 30,000 dialysis treatments per year, but it only has a designed capacity for 9,000 treatments a year. The remainder are delivered in satellite dialysis units.  This is private, costly, and represents an unacceptable clinical risk to many of the patients.

“Additionally, according to the Midlands Hospital group, there is also a critical shortage of capacity to deliver high dependency dialysis in the region, and they are relying on the use of expensive private providers as well.”

Crowe continued

“Last year in a Dáil question I asked Minister Harris to outline how much taxpayers were paying for private dialysis services and was told that it cost over €4 million in 2017, and this doesn’t even include the added transport costs for dialysis patients, which was an extra €1.2 million.

“It is absolutely bonkers that the current system is squandering scarce money on private services when an alternative is available in Tallaght. The shovel ready site is identified, the building of the unit won’t impact on the hospital, and there is no planning issue with the local authority, it just needs a final decision from Minister Harris.

“In 2017 there was a commitment to go ahead with a new unit, but without warning, it was inexplicably cancelled in January 2018. The continued delay and failure to build a new dialysis unit is impacting directly on patients, increasing health care costs, and having a negative effect on the hard pressed staff within the hospital.

“We know that a delay doesn’t make any financial sense.  There is also a growing medical need and continued delays in building this new unit is putting lives at risk.

“I am calling on Minister Harris to urgently release the funding and finally authorise this badly needed new dialysis unit.”