Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams recently met with Margaret Swords, Group General Manager, of the Louth Meath Hospital Group and Angela McNamee, Director of Nursing, to discuss the impact of the National Service Plan on hospital provision for Louth County Hospital in Dundalk, Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda and Our Lady of Lourdes in Navan.
The Sinn Féin leader was accompanied by Councillor Imelda Munster, Councillor Tomas Sharkey, East Meath representative Eimear Ferguson and Drogheda representative Kenneth Flood.
The Louth TD said:
“This was an informative and very useful meeting. Ms Swords acknowledged that the Louth-Meath group would see cuts to its funding as a result of the National Service Plan but said that these could be absorbed within the group’s current strategy.
“The Group General Manager said that there would be no cuts to services and outlined additional services that would be provided in the year ahead, including an ophthalmology service providing cataract operations in Louth County Hospital and an ongoing new build programme in Our Lady of Lourdes that will see new operating theatres and a new emergency department.
“However Ms Swords acknowledged that that there are difficulties in moving patients through the emergency department as quickly as she would like into beds. Ms Swords revealed that of the 209 beds in the hospital 107 are occupied by patients over 75 years of age and 160 of the patients are over 65. Some of these patients have been treated but because they cannot go home without a home care package or there are no residential places, they are taking up beds which should be used for patients.
“The failure of the government to provide appropriate residential accommodation or home care packages have put Our Lady of Lourdes under unacceptable pressure.”
Commenting on the situation Councillor Imelda Munster said:
“It is clear from our conversation with the Group General Manager that the failure by the government to provide residential care for elderly citizens and the removal of long stay and respite beds from the Cottage Hospital in Drogheda in 2012 is adding to the burden on health service provision for the elderly.
“At the time the public was told that 16 transitional care beds would be provided in the Cottage Hospital along with increased funding for home adaption and mobility grants for the elderly to assist those who want to remain living independently in their homes.
“Since then funding for the home adaption and mobility grants has been slashed from €80 million to €38 million.
“At the time there was a commitment to provide a new 100 bed unit in St Mary’s Hospital on the Dublin Road before the HIOA standards come in to force in January 2015. There was been no application for funding in 2012 or 2013. An application for funding was made in recent months but there is no guarantee that the funding will be given.”