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Ó Caoláin slams proposals to rationalise acute hospital services in the North East

14 May, 2007

Speaking at a specially convened Sinn Féin Press Conference in Monaghan this morning, the party's Dáil Leader and spokesperson on Health, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, roundly slammed the HSE's planned implementation of the Teamwork Report recommendations. Ó Caoláin and colleagues presented the media with copies of a document that they had received and which spells out in detail, including costings, staff reductions and timeframes, the HSE's plans to rationalise the acute hospital services in the North East.

"The HSE and the FF/PD government did not want this document to enter the public arena before the General Election. They have sought to conceal the facts, the full facts, regarding their plans for the future of services at both Monaghan and Cavan General Hospitals and at the Louth Hospital in Dundalk, at Our Lady's Hospital Navan and at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. Their plans are now fully exposed. They include;

The further loss of services at Monaghan General Hospital including;

  • Treatment Room reduced to an 8 to 8 seven day service by 2008
  • Transfer of Acute Medicine from Monaghan to Cavan General Hospital by July 2008 and with the loss of 5.5 WTE posts
  • All Monaghan Critical Care patients to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda
  • Closure of the Monaghan High Care Unit (Critical Care Unit) - target date 1st July 2007
  • All in-patient activity will be non-acute and nurse-led
  • Monaghan General Hospital to become an Ambulatory Care facility providing diagnostics, rehabilitation and related services - target date July 2008
  • Increases in ambulance staff and vehicles to accommodate increased movement of atients within and to services beyond the region
  • 1 bed increase in ITU capacity at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, to accommodate the transfer of critically ill patients from Monaghan
  • Etablish single Department of Anaesthesia within the Cavan Monaghan Hospitals Group - target date February 2008
  • Key pathology posts to be Cavan and Drogheda based with a reduction in overall staffing of 15 by July 2009
  • Psychiatric Services Priority 1: - Acute Psychiatric services to be located on new Regional Hospital site

"After the initial further transfer of services and workload from Monaghan to Cavan, and from Dundalk and Navan to Drogheda, and with a projected staff reduction of 48 by July 2009, the Teamwork Implementation project sets 2012 as the target date for the establishment of a new regional hospital that will incorporate all acute and planned inpatient activity for the region upon which;

  • all existing hospitals in the region, including Cavan General Hospital, will become ambulatory centres

Deputy Ó Caoláin drew the attention of all present to the thrust of the document which refers to the proposed changes as presenting 'major opportunities for savings, efficiencies and staff redeployment.'

"It also refers to frontline staff reductions and the savings that will come about as a consequence. Savings of €2.2 million in 2007 and €5 million in 2008 are projected" stated Ó Caoláin.

"This is a damning exposure of the real intent and purpose of the Teamwork recommendations. Improved services and patient safety get scant mention in the text of this implementation document. The real intent of the HSE and the outgoing government towards hospital services in the North East is shown as never before. This is about rationalisation not regionalisation by any standard of measure.

"I call on An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to immediately intervene and to state categorically to the people of Cavan, of Monaghan, of Meath and of Louth, that he and his party, Fianna Fáil, have at last seen the folly of their approach to acute hospital services and healthcare in general in the North East Region and will withdraw their support for the Hanley/Teamwork proposals and will instead commit their long awaited support for the network of hospitals across this region and throughout the State.

"We in Sinn Féin will, if in government post this General Election, radically change the direction of healthcare policy in both the Department of Health and Children and in the Health Service Executive. Democratic accountability will return to the office of the Minister and services will return to our local hospitals. Ours is a vision of healthcare that truly places the patient first and is geared to meeting the needs of communities" concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.

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