Protesters hit out at 'closure of city hospital by stealth'
CONSULTANT medical staff and public representatives in the West have rejected assurances by the Health Service Executive (HSE) about the future of one of a city's two public hospitals.
The first in a series of public demonstrations to maintain services at Merlin Park Hospital in Galway drew 500 people on to the streets amid dire warnings that the HSE is in the process of axing health services by stealth.
HSE West, in a statement, insisted there were no plans to close Merlin Park, on the eastern outskirts of Galway city.
But it admitted ward and theatre closures had taken place as cost-saving measures.
"Rumours are circulating in relation to the closure of the elective orthopedic service. Planned orthopedic surgery is continuing at Merlin Park Hospital; however, the service has performed above the agreed activity to date. This means that the service has to slow down and cannot continue at the accelerated pace," the HSE statement added.
But consultant orthopedic surgeon Stephen Kearns dismissed the HSE statement.
"The HSE have been excellent in burying the cuts in their language. They are denying there is any plan to close Merlin Park, but they are doing it by stealth. While technically they have are not closing it, they are reducing our numbers", he said.
Chairman of the HSE West Health Forum Cllr Padraic Conneely said it was vital for all community organisations to support a mass demonstration against health cuts in Galway on September 25.