Top consultant backs hospital protest
A LEADING consultant has urged the public to take to the streets as worries grow about the future of three hospitals.
Dr Paud O'Regan, consultant physician at South Tipperary General Hospital, has hit out at his HSE employers and claimed they are planning to downgrade hospitals in Clonmel, Wexford and Kilkenny.
Up to €40m has been spent on hospital services in Clonmel alone in the last decade, upgrading facilities such as surgery, accident and emergency and obstetrics, he said.
The consultant has already resigned from a steering group set up by the HSE to examine the 'reconfiguration' of acute hospital services across the south-east and is now backing a protest march due to take place at the end of the month.
"People power can achieve anything," Dr O'Regan told the Irish Independent. "We feel that it's insanity to attack a thriving, innovative, vibrant hospital."
He claimed that the HSE's reconfiguration process will recommend the implementation of the controversial Hanley Report "in all but name", taking accident and emergency and surgery out of a number of major population centres.
"This is a real and immediate threat," Dr O'Regan said, pointing to a recent decision to close an acute psychiatric unit in Clonmel as evidence of the HSE's intentions. "This is an indication of what is before us with the other services."
Asked about Dr O'Regan's comments, a HSE spokesperson said that the hospital steering group is "willing to engage and meet with anyone who has concerns about reconfiguration".
Clonmel is set to host a major public demonstration on Saturday, March 27, shortly before the HSE's steering group is set to present its recommendations on the future of the south-east's acute hospitals.