A MUCH-ANTICIPATED report which is expected to outline a proposal to link Wexford General Hospital with Dublin instead of Waterford, may have ' little impact' on Wexford and instead it could strengthen the hospital's current position.
Those are the beliefs of Fine Gael TD Liam Twomey, who said however that attention will have to be paid to any major changes to Waterford Regional Hospital and the services it currently provides within the region.
'None of us will support the downgrading of services in Waterford,' said Deputy Twomey.
A report from the Hospital Groups Strategic Board under Chairman Professor John Higgins is expected to be published in a few weeks. There are fears among hospital consultants that it will recommend the breaking up of the existing south east hospital group which includes Wexford, Waterford, Kilkenny and Tipperary.
According to Dr. Liam Twomey, at present, Wexford General Hospital's linkage with Waterford Regional Hospital is 'well advanced' and both enjoy a 'good relationship'. At the same time Wexford also has a very good connection with St Vincent's.
'With the report by Prof. Higgins, he feels that every hospital should be connected directly with a teaching hospital. The usefulness in the long term is you get better quality standards, governance and opportunities to attract new, young doctors to come work in your hospitals. There are good long-term prospects,' explained Dr. Twomey.
'I don't see that things will change dramatically - Wexford and Waterford are already very closely connected and Wexford is loosely connected with St. Vincent's. If the report is implemented Wexford will have a very close connection with St. Vincent's and not as close with Waterford Regional Hospital but that will all take place in 10 to 15 years time,' he outlined.
' There will be no significant change in Wexford - people won't notice a change. What some patients might notice is increased co-operation between St. Vincent's and Wexford and continued connections with Waterford,' he added.
However, Liam says that if 'significant change' comes about in Waterford Regional Hospital that will have to be 'watched for'.
'I have been informed there will be no immediate changes to Waterford's designation as a cancer centre, which would be very important from Wexford's point of view,' said the Fine Gael TD, who assures that no services in Wexford will be moved elsewhere.
' The big ones we are watching for is Waterford's Angio Labs for heart patients and Waterford's designation as a regional cancer centre. So far there has been no discussion and if anything it has been made crystal clear that Waterford Regional Hospital is holding onto its status as a regional centre regardless of the report into reconfigurations,' said Liam, who believes that in advance of the publication of the report, that there will be 'very little impact' for Wexford patients.
'We have to look at Waterford Regional Hospital however and what services it provides within the region. None of us will support the downgrading of services in Waterford. We need the connectivity with Waterford,' he added.