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“Death sentence for Monaghan General Hospital confirmed – FF Oireachtas members should hang their heads in shame”

23 October, 2008 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

The Health Service Executive has this afternoon informed 130 staff that they will no longer be employed in Monaghan General Hospital and are to be redeployed. The HSE has confirmed that the final removal of all acute medical services from Monaghan General Hospital will take place in late January/early February 2009.

Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson and Cavan-Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has secured a debate on this issue on the adjournment of the Dáil today.

Speaking ahead of the debate he said:

"The HSE has confirmed the death sentence for Monaghan General Hospital. All acute medical services are to go, along with the 130 staff who provide them. A Hospital which has provided care to generations of people will be no more.

"Health Minister Mary Harney, her Fianna Fáil colleagues in Government, the HSE and, above all, the Fianna Fáil Oireachtas members for Cavan-Monaghan should hang their heads in shame. They have betrayed the people and allowed vital services to be taken away with grave consequences for the health and the very lives of the people of Co. Monaghan.

"This will be a devastating blow to the people of Co. Monaghan and a major reduction in overall hospital services in the entire North East region. It is the culmination of years of attrition by the Government and the HSE during which time service after service was taken from the hospital.

"The HSE has stated that once a medical assessment unit opens in Cavan General Hospital in late November/early December the transfer of acute medical services from Monaghan to Cavan will happen within two months.

"There are currently 3,000 acute medical admissions to Monaghan General Hospital per annum. By the end of January/start of February 2009, if the HSE's plan goes ahead, this service will have to be provided by Cavan General Hospital. And not a single additional acute hospital bed is to be provided in Cavan.

"The plan outlined by the HSE to staff today makes no mention of the location of additional A&E ambulance cover in Monaghan town as promised by the HSE.

"In a letter to me of 3 September the HSE lists 'measures that must be in place prior to the centralisation of Acute Inpatient Services at Cavan General Hospital'. These include 'an additional 24-hour emergency ambulance at Monaghan Ambulance Station, an increase of 1 or 50% i.e. from 2 to 3 ambulances'.

"When I learned from sources inside the HSE that the promised extra ambulance service may not be located in Monaghan town, the HSE failed to deny it and confirmed that other locations were being considered. Our Hospital is being closed and we do not even have a guarantee that we will be provided with the ambulance service which the HSE itself said was vital.

"The removal of services from Monaghan General Hospital has already caused the deaths of patients. I have no doubt that the closure of the Hospital will lead to huge inconvenience, totally unnecessary suffering and, in some cases, the avoidable deaths of patients.

"I accuse Fianna Fáil Deputies Brendan Smith, Rory O'Hanlon and Margaret Conlon and Senators Diarmuid Wilson and Francis O'Brien of betraying the people of County Monaghan and County Cavan whom they were elected to represent. Thanks to these Fianna Fáil time-servers who failed to confront their Government on a life and death issue, healthcare in Co. Monaghan is to be devastated while Cavan General Hospital will be forced to cope with a huge additional workload of patients without the additional resources required.

"I make now what is a last minute appeal to the Minister for Health & Children Mary Harney to intervene and to prevent this HSE plan from going ahead. If the Fianna Fáil Oireachtas members have an iota of concern for the people they will do the same. I urge people to lobby the Minister, the HSE, and the Fianna Fáil Oireachtas members in a final effort to save Monaghan General Hospital." ENDS

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