Health centre closure 'spells death knell for community'
A COMMUNITY which lost its garda station two years ago has warned its very existence is under threat after the HSE announced it was to sell the nearby health centre.
Tynagh in Co Galway lost its garda station back in 2012, leaving people in the area feeling isolated. However, they have now been dealt a second serious blow after it emerged they were to lose another lifeline with the closure of the health centre.
Locals have now vowed to fight the move, insisting it could be the final death knell to the community.
"It doesn't make sense. They are taking this service from the most vulnerable," said councillor Anne Rabbitte.
"We have a very aged population and no local bus service. By closing this centre they are withholding a vital service from people with no support mechanism in place."
On June 3, Dr Raymond Brogan, who holds a weekly clinic in the centre, received a letter from the Galway Roscommon Private Community Continuing Care. It informed him a review was carried out of the utilisation of health centres in the area to identify centres no longer in use by HSE staff.
"Following the review it has been decided to put Tynagh health centre up for auction in the near future. I am advising you of this in advance so that you have adequate notice to make alternative arrangements for your clinic," it read.
The HSE has also planned to auction a second health centre in nearby Gurteeny. However, it is understood a stay has been placed on that move.
A local group are now appealing to the HSE to also delay the decision in Tynagh until it consults with the community.
Ms Rabbitte said the move would have a serious detrimental impact on the community.
"This is a real strike against rural living. Over the years the HSE had eroded the services in the centre but nobody in the community had any idea the health centre was at risk. Now they will be forced to travel to Portuma or Loughrea for a vital service.
"People are absolutely livid about this, they really feel they are being let down by central government," she added.
A statement from the HSE said the decision is part of the overall policy of primary care to develop modern facilities in Primary Care Centres.
"The centres in Tynagh and Gurteeny only provided GP outreach sessional services and were not utilised by any HSE service.
"The HSE opened a €1m Primary Care facility in Loughrea this week. As part of the overall strategy, expression of interest to develop primary care centres in Gort and Portumna have been readvertised," it added.