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HSE plan for North East would be throwback to cuts of 1980s – Ó Caoláin

29 January, 2008 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has described as "a throwback to the savage cuts of the 1980s" the leaked memo from the Health Service Executive setting out extensive cuts in hospital services in the North East region (Cavan, Monaghan, Louth and Meath). He said it "puts book-keeping before life-saving".

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "Whatever the status of this document, and even if it is only a draft, it reflects the reality of the thinking within the HSE and the Department of Health and Children. The intent to cut services is very clear. In their reaction the HSE has not disowned the memo nor have they ruled out any of the cuts proposed.

"This plan would involve cuts across hospital services in the North East region with devastating effect on hospital patients in Cos. Cavan, Monaghan, Louth and Meath. From the wording of the memo it is clear that this has nothing to do with patient care and all to do with 'savings'. No regard is taken of the massive human and financial costs of the loss of services and consequent deterioration in health outcomes for our population.

"The proposed slashing of services includes the closure of 10 beds at Monaghan General Hospital, the reduction of outpatient clinics to four days per week in Cavan and Monaghan General hospitals, the reduction of elective surgery to a four-day week in Cavan and Monaghan, the taking of Monaghan 'off call' completely, rendering its Medical and Treatment room redundant, reduction in orthopaedic surgery at Navan and elective surgery at Dundalk and a reduction of out-patient clinics at Drogheda.

"The Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney must intervene and make clear that this plan will not be implemented in part or in whole. Such a plan would be a throwback to the savage health cuts of the 1980s. It does not even have the pretence of replacing services which have been cut as the proposals cover all hospitals in the region. It is a set of proposals which puts book-keeping before life-saving and it must be totally rejected." ENDS

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