IT WAS the casting vote of the chairman, Cllr Finnan McCoy, which saw Louth County Council passing a motion expressing concerns about effects which the reduction on health spending would have on the citizens and seeking a meeting with the Minister for Health Dr James Reilly.
This was an amendment to an original motion proposed by Cllr Tomas Sharkey which had urged the council to express 'no confidence in the Minister for Health because of his inability to deliver on his budget commitments which were based on false and misleading targets in many areas that were never achievable or implementable due to his lack of governance, resulting in more chaos across the health service which will directly impact on patients because of more frontline services being cut, extra bed closures, and more cuts to social support services to the disabled and elderly'.
Cllr Sharkey said that Minister Reilly's actions had led to the permanent closure of a 20 bed step down ward in the Louth County Hospital, the closure of 16 beds on the 6th floor of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, the reduction of physiotherapy services in the Louth County Hospital, the reduction of opening hours of the Acute Medical Assessment Unit in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, and reduction of the provision of home help hours across the state, with 70,000 home help hours cut in Louth.
He also expressed concern about the imminent reduction of the opening hours of the Minor Injuries Unit in the Louth County Hospital and the proposals to discontinue respite beds in the Cottage Hospital, Drogheda.
Cllr Micheal O'Dowd proposed the amendment expressing concern about the reduction of the health spend and also suggested that they seek a meeting with Minister Reilly.
Cllr Frank Maher branded the budget introduced by the Health Minister last year as 'Alice in Wonderland stuff which was never going to happen' and which had resulted in a huge shortfall that meant cuts which were made with 'a slash hook rather than a scalpel'.
The cuts in the home help hours were also criticised by Cllrs Frank Godfrey and Peter Savage while Cllr Imelda Munster described the public health system as reaching 'an all time low'.
Cllr Markey was in favour of meeting with the Minister so they could ask him questions and Cllr O'Dowd rejected the accusation that the government parties were burying their heads in the sand, saying everyone was concerned about the health service in the region. His views were echoed by Cllr Pio Smith while Cllr Martin Bellew said he would be supporting Cllr Sharkey's motion as they needed to keep the pressure on.
Chairman Cllr McCoy said he couldn't support Cllr Sharkey's motion as he was engaging with the Minister over the nursing home in Ardee and it seemed to be going well.
When the vote on the amendment was recorded as twelve in favour and twelve against, he gave his casting vote for it.