A new €5 million MRI scanning unit is lying idle in the Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore due to staff shortages, it has emerged, even though the region has the longest waiting list for scans in the State.
New figures show that more than 16,000 people are waiting for an MRI scan in the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group, the umbrella group to which the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore belongs. This is the highest waiting list for an MRI appointment for any hospital group in the country, according to the data.
The figures, obtained by Fianna Fáil’s Stephen Donnelly , show that 4,919 people are waiting more than 18 months for an MRI in the area. The figures cover the period up until the end of March 2019.
More than 1,400 people are waiting up to a year for an MRI in the area, with 1,588 waiting up to nine months and 2,477 waiting up to six months. A total of 3,707 were waiting up to three months, the figures reveal.
Those patients are waiting for scans under the HSE’s national integrated medical imaging system (NIMIS) of electronically stored images.
The MRI scanning unit was built with an extension to the existing X-ray department.
In a statement, the HSE said that “the delivery of the new MRI scan remains a key priority for the Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore and the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group”.
“The hospital group is working with the Acute Hospitals Division to ensure our budgets are in line with service plan levels. In this regard, the HSE nationally are requesting that all new posts go through national directorate approval processes before any new staff can be put on the payroll.
“While we await the recruitment of key staff for the new service, the existing MRI service continues to be available.”
The HSE said the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group expects to continue to develop services and grow its workforce this year. “However, we must do so in a way that is planned and affordable.”
After a tendering process, the Elliott Group was selected to construct the MRI and an associated extension, its website states. It said significant existing services had to be diverted prior to any construction works commencing on site.