TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has given assurances that Bantry Hospital will get its long-promised new stroke and endoscopy units.
The FF leader made the pledge when he opened the Local Injury Unit at the hospital this week.
He acknowledged that there is some frustration locally about the delay in actually starting the project, which has been announced on several occasions.
Planning, procurement and design are the issues that take time, he said.
He told The Southern Star the investment for both the endoscopy suite and rehabilitation unit is ‘in the capital programme.’
Following a meeting with hospital staff on Monday, Christopher O’Sullivan TD said there was a firm indication that work on the new units could now start in ‘a matter of weeks’.
The Taoiseach took a tour of Bantry General Hospital’s new injury unit, which opened as a specific unit in 2013, but had to relocate to the outpatient clinic in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions.
A €750,000 investment in the new injury unit has provided the people of West Cork with an ultra-modern and dedicated space for the treatment of injuries.
Dr Gerry McCarthy, a consultant in emergency medicine, said 120,000 patients attend one of the 11 injury units in Ireland every year, and this number is steadily rising.
‘These,’ he said, ‘are patients who otherwise would have had to travel a greater distance to an emergency department, where they would probably have to wait significantly longer to receive care for their broken ankle, wrist, or dislocated shoulder, than is the case in their local injury unit.’ Hospital manager Carole Croke explained that the unit is under the governance of Dr McCarthy, and the services are delivered by Dr Rachel Fellowes and her team, as well as Marguerite Murray, the clinical nurse manager.
Instead of waiting 24 hours or more at an emergency department in Cork, the hospital manager said patients with such physical injuries can be seen, x-rayed and treated, usually within a matter of one to two hours.
The Taoiseach said the new endoscopy suite and stroke rehabilitation unit would also remove the need for people to travel long distances for such services.
The Taoiseach said he had long admired the ‘esprit de coeur’ at Bantry General Hospital and the outstanding community spirit that drives all who work here.
‘The strong sense of community is,’ he added, ‘the greatest strength of this hospital.
‘There is a real investment by people in this facility and that speaks volumes in terms of the value and role of this hospital.’
Later that afternoon, the Taoiseach was in Leap to officially open the new amenity park, Ceann an Mháire, otherwise known as ‘the head of the sea’.
The park, according to James Ronan, chairman of the Leap and Glandore Community Council, is going to be of great benefit to the entire parish.
The project, including the purchase of the site, has been in the making for five years and includes a viewing platform over the tidal estuary, a community garden, a seating area and a pergola.
An estimated 200 people attended the opening, which James described as ‘a memorable day in the life of our community.’
‘The Taoiseach,’ he said, ‘was only supposed to stay for half-an-hour but the celebrations were so good it went on for two hours.’
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar started his visit to West Cork on Friday night, with a meeting of members of Cork South West Fine Gael.
On Saturday morning, the Tánaiste went ‘walkabout’ in Bantry and Goleen, where he visited the shop of the late Paddy Sheehan, a Fine Gael stalwart in West Cork.
He then visited award winning cheese firm Gubbeen before heading to Schull for a further meet-and-greet and ended the day by attending a Fine Gael social at Nemo Rangers GAA Club in Cork city.