THE FEARED downgrade of Waterford Regional Hospital will have implications for the entire South East.
That is according to Ken Mealy, a Consultant Surgeon in Wexford General Hospital, who fears that if Waterford Regional Hospital is downgraded and loses certain medical specialties patients will be forced to travel much further for necessary treatments.
According to Mr. Mealy it is thought that services at Wexford General Hospital would not change apart from specialities that are tied in with Waterford Regional Hospital.
' The knock on effect of patients being dealt with here is a big issue. The current provision of services is certain and reasonably good so why change it,' he added.
If Waterford Regional Hospital was to be downgraded there would be 'particular concerns' for trauma and orthopaedic procedures.
' The people of Wexford use those services in Waterford at the moment and it could be problematic for children. While it is somewhat reasonable for Wexford people to travel to Dublin, I don't know where children would end up going,' said Mr. Mealy.
The anticipated release of a report from the Hospital Groups Strategic Board under Chairman Professor John Higgins has lead to 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.
A group of concerned south east medical consultants have come together to oppose any such recommendation and say their contention is that it will adversely impact on patient care in the southeast.
'We fully support the South Eastern Hospital Group as a network. We fully support the concept of networks as an efficient provision of hospital care,' said Mr. Mealy.
' The medical board in Wexford General Hospital overwhelmingly voted for and supports the South East remaining as a hospital network and strengthening that network,' he added.