THE recent publication of the HSE South regional service plan for 2013 included a number of measures that will have ramifications for the people in North Cork.
Despite a funding gap of €44.1 million that has to be bridged this year, and the threat of further job cuts, HSE officials were keen to point out that the plan contained plenty of "positive" aspects.
An initiative that will see the opening of 20 new beds at Marymount Hospice will, for the first time, provide consultant input to Mallow General Hospital and facilitate the establishment of a satellite base in Mallow for community palliative care services in North Cork,
The HSE envisages that access to acute services will be improved through the opening of 110 additional beds and a reduction in waiting times for both emergency/unscheduled care and elective/scheduled care in public hospitals.
This includes a pledge that 95% of all attendees to emergency departments will be either discharged or admitted within six hours of registration
The plan also incorporated a projected activity chart for 2013, which predicted that Mallow General Hospital will treat 6,933 patients this year, 3,861 as in-patients and 3,072 day cases.
The plan conceded that the restructuring of Cork acute hospitals has resulted in the "streamlining" of services, but insisted that smaller hospitals such as Mallow and Bantry now have a "defined role" that would guarantee them a "sustainable and central role" into the future.
'Mallow and Bantry will continue to provide services that are appropriate for the hospitals and for the local population, delivering non-complex care as close as possible to patients' homes,' read the plan.
It also highlighted the fact that €4.5 million is being spent on the new medical assessment unit and endoscopy unit in Mallow and that a fourth consultant with a specialist interest in respiratory medicine is due to start at MGH next month.
Day case surgery in fields including dental, gynaecology and urology will also be transferred from city hospitals to Mallow, resulting in larger volumes of surgical activity at MGH.
In the primary care sector the Early Admission Risk Likelihood Index (EARLI), which was piloted at the Mallow Primary Healthcare Centre and resulted in a 20% reduction in hospital admissions, is to be rolled out at two locations in Cork city.
The North Cork 'Your Good Self' primary care project is also to be expanded to Fermoy and Mitchelstown, with plans also in place to further expand the North Cork Infant Mental Health programme across the region.
The service plan can be viewed in full at www.hse.ie.