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Cork East Fine Gael TD, David Stanton, has today (Wednesday) welcomed confirmation from the Minister for Health, James Reilly TD, that the long-awaited stroke unit in Cork University Hospital will be open for business in January/February 2014. Deputy Stanton was speaking during Topical Issues in the Dáíl, where Minister Reilly assured him that he is deeply committed to opening the unit.

“I welcome Minister Reilly’s commitment to opening the stroke unit in Cork University Hospital (CUH) in late January/early February 2014. The National Stroke Programme 2012 provided for the opening of 28 dedicated stroke units in acute hospitals throughout the country. So far, 27 out of the 28 units have been operational for well over a year and the unit in CUH is the only one still to open.

“It is widely accepted that a dedicated stroke unit with specialist nursing care reduces disability in stroke admissions and can cut the annual death toll of over 2,000 people in Ireland by 20-25%. This could mean approximately one patient being saved every two to three weeks based on CUH stroke admission figures. Since the 27 dedicated stroke units have opened, Ireland has moved from the bottom of the EU league table to the top with regard to thrombolysis treatment of stroke. These improvements have resulted in the saving of one life per day and three fewer stroke patients entering long term care every day.

“I am told that considerable funding has been allocated for the CUH stroke unit, however, I understand from ongoing contact with the HSE, that, while specialised staff have been recruited and trained to staff the unit, the delay in opening the unit has resulted from difficulties in securing nurses to replace those being transferred to the stroke unit. Minister Reilly agrees with me that this sounds remarkable given the numbers of unemployed nurses in the country and the fact that the stroke unit in Mercy University Hospital in Cork has been operational for two years.

“Cork University Hospital is one of only two locations which have the potential to be a centre of excellence in stroke care in Ireland. I urge the HSE to ensure no further delays in the delivery of this unit which is vital to reducing death and disability for stroke patients.”