THE 24/7 A/E dept at Mallow General Hospital is to close on March 25 - to be immediately replaced by an 'urgent care centre' comprised of a 12-hour local injury unit and medical assessment unit.
Local Deputy Tom Barry revealed this week that the emergency dept at MGH will shut in just over three weeks, during the week commencing March 25.
He said acute and emergency surgery will transfer from MGH to CUH (Cork University Hospital) in the same week, with surgeries transferring out of Cork City to MGH during the week commencing April 8.
Elective in-patient surgeries will transfer from MGH to CUH during the week commencing May 20.
"The future of Mallow hospital is secure. Not only that, but Mallow will see further investment and expansion in its new role over the coming years," said Deputy Barry.
"This is the first time in decades that we have had a Minister for Health confirm that MGH will be expanding, as opposed to the constant threat of closure which hung over Mallow for many years," he added.
Deputy Barry said the "new look" MGH would continue to perform in-patient elective surgery with more minor surgeries transferring out of CUH and Mercy Hospital to Mallow.
"Mallow will have capacity for 900 more surgical day cases and 1,000 more scopes annually," said Deputy Barry.
"Mallow is now intrinsically linked with the CUH, effectively operating as part of that hospital campus. The progressive input of consultants will see better services and less cost to taxpayers.
"MGH will become a model of how smaller hospitals can play a vital and progressive role in modern medicine," he added.
Meanwhile, Minister Sean Sherlock has moved to ensure what he described as the "buy in" to changes of local GPs who refer to the hospital.
"There was an agreement that they would be consulted but up to early this week this had not been done. As a result of my intervention this has now been done and the GPs have met with the HSE," said Deputy Sherlock.
"If an out of hours service is to be made available to GPs then a clear protocol needs to be set up so that local GPs can have every confidence in the changes being made at the MGH," he added.
Minister Sherlock said that if the current negotiations with the GPs concluded successfully, he would be happy to support the changes at the MGH.
"We are nearing the end, but there are still some hurdles to overcome," he said.