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Government Commitments on Kerry General Hospital should be made public

7 April, 2008

North Kerry Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris has said that any commitments that were given to Independent TD Jackie Healy-Rae by Bertie Ahern on the future of Kerry General Hospital should now be made public. He said while the conditions at Kerry General Hospital continue to worsen with the continued failure to re-appoint an A&E Consultant, the closure of wards due to the lack of nursing staff, and reported surgery cancellations, people are entitled to know if commitments were given.

Deputy Ferris also said people are entitled to know, if these were commitments given, will they still stand under the helm of Brian Cowen.

He said, "In light of the ongoing problems at Kerry General Hospital I think it is important that the people of Kerry are made aware of what, if any, commitments were given by the Taoiseach to Independent Deputy Jackie Healy-Rae on the future of the hospital. Nobody, outside of the HSE Spin Office, denies that there are serious problems at Kerry General Hospital.

"It is now over two year's since A&E Consultant Seán O'Rourke resigned in protest and to date the HSE has failed to fill his position. Last month I found out that Elective Surgery Lists at Kerry General had to be cut back because there was no cover to allow Theatre Nurses take part in an updating course. The same week I was told by the Manager of Kerry General Hospital that there was significant pressure on bed availability within the hospital. We had the closure of the Clonfert Ward, which cost the tax payer €629,000 to refurbish, because of the lack of staff and we hear weekly reports from the INO of large numbers of people waiting on trolleys in the A&E department.

"I am not asking Deputy Healy-Rae to release his entire list because he has taken the decision not to and I respect that, however I think with the situation at our hospital being so serious that he should tell the people of Kerry what guarantees he got about Kerry General.

"With Bertie Ahern's departure next month everyone, perhaps even Deputy Healy-Rae himself, wants to know if the agreement he made with Bertie Ahern will still stand under Brian Cowen's tenure.

"Last November Deputy Healy-Rae said that he would use the retention of cancer services at Kerry General Hospital as a bargaining chip in return for his support for Mary Harney when she faced a motion of no-confidence. What I would like to know is; did he receive a guarantee about the retention of cancer service in return for his vote and is that guarantee being delivered?" ENDS

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