Make hospital election issue, beg local GPs

January 27th, 2020 10:00 AM

By Siobhan Cronin

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THREE West Cork GPs have appealed to the public to make Bantry General Hospital an election issue.
The three doctors, Dr Joseph Ryan of Ballinascarthy, Dr Eoin O’Shea of Rosscarbery and Dr Brian Aherne of Kilbrittain, on behalf of West Cork GP trainees, said they have ‘grave concerns’ about the future of the hospital.
In a letter addressed to The Southern Star’s editor, the trio say: ‘We fear the knock-on effects of such a short-sighted decision will be felt for generations.’
In correspondence with medical consultants last December, Dr Michael Power, national clinical lead for the HSE Critical Care programme, suggested that the hospital should be downgraded to a Model 2.’
This is seen as a major blow for the facility, which could see a threat to many of its services and local GPs have already stated it could result in deaths, as emergency patients make the long trek to a Cork city hospital instead. GPs have been meeting this week to discuss the issue. And an online petition has already gathered over 5,000 signatures.
This week Tánaiste Simon Coveney said in a statement: ‘There are no plans to downgrade the facilities at BGH. It is a vital hospital for West Cork and developing additional services there has been the priority, with significant investments in improvements at the hospital.’
FG candidate Tim Lombard added: ‘There are absolutely no plans that would see capacity reduced at a time when the health service is clearly under pressure.’
A meeting of the Western Committee of Cork County Council this week was told that a letter had been sent to Health Minister Simon Harris, demanding the hospital’s future be safeguarded.
Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind), the chairman of the Friends of Bantry Hospital, said the same letter should be sent to the HSE chief, and the chief executive of the South/Southwest Hospital Groups.
Cllr Hurley said that a HSE statement – which was issued by PR firm Heneghan last week and echoed the assurances made by Fine Gael candidates this week – was ‘misleading’ and ‘unsigned’ and that it could give anyone in the HSE ‘plausible deniability’ in the future.
The newly-formed Bantry Hospital Users Action Group are holding a public meeting at The Maritime Hotel in Bantry at 7.30pm on Monday next, January 27th.

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