Health cuts have weakened defences against swine flu pandemic – Ó Caoláin
Speaking in advance of a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Health & Children to address the swine flu pandemic, Sinn Féin Health & Children spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said that health cuts have weakened the public health system and would make it far more difficult to cope with the flu pandemic in the coming winter.
He said, “Throughout the summer we have seen continuing cuts to public health services with hospital wards and beds closing across the State. More cuts are in the offing with hundreds of front-line healthcare workers, including nurses, targeted for cutbacks.
“For example, hospital beds closed for the summer and not yet reopened include 16 in Mullingar, 15 in Tullamore and 34 in Portiuncula, Ballinasloe. The ending of acute hospital services in Monaghan General Hospital has seen the loss of 56 acute in-patient beds there and further pressure on Cavan General Hospital without the provision of a single additional in-patient bed at Cavan. A similar fate now awaits Louth County Hospital in Dundalk, piling renewed pressure on the Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
“The Irish Nurses Organisation has warned that HSE plans for nurse-led clinics to administer the swine flu vaccine face major challenges when front-line staff are being let go and when wards and beds are being closed.
“Health cutbacks pose a grave danger to public health, especially in the face of the swine flu pandemic which is predicted to worsen over the winter. These cuts must be reversed.” ENDS