independent

Monday 15 September 2014

Hospital trips up to five times longer in store for patients

SICK IN SOUTH WEXFORD MAY FACE DRIVES TO DUBLIN OR CORK IF WATERFORD DOWNGRADED

ELAINE FURLONG

Published 13/11/2012 | 12:38

  • Share

A PROPOSAL TO downgrade Waterford Regional Hospital could hit people across south Wexford by forcing sick patients to travel journeys, up to five times longer, to already stretched hospitals in Cork and Dublin.

  • Share
  • Go To

Up to 15,000 protesters gathered in Waterford City on Saturday with one clear message - 'don't touch our hospital'. This follows speculation that the Government will move to implement a report by an expert group that is understood to recommend the break-up of the South East's current hospital network.

In what would be a massive blow to the region, it is feared that Waterford Regional Hospital, which serves a catchment area of 500,000 people, will lose its regional status and be downgraded to county hospital status, linked to Cork University Hospital (CUH).

Under this plan, it is believed Wexford General Hospital would link up with St. Vincent's Hospital in Dublin.

Among the protestors was Tullogher TD John Paul Phelan, who said: 'it could mean that people might have to travel to Dublin or Cork to access services, we don't know yet exactly. It would have a huge impact on people who are ill having to travel'. PATIENTS IN the New Ross area face lengthy journeys to Dublin or Cork for certain medical services if Waterford Regional Hospital is downgraded.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Waterford City on Saturday, including many from south county Wexford, with one clear message - 'don't touch our hospital'.

Up to 15,000 converged on the city's streets to protest amid speculation that the Government will move to implement a report by an expert group, that is understood to recommend the break-up of the South East's current hospital network.

In what would be a massive blow to the region, it is feared that Waterford Regional Hospital, which serves a catchment area of 500,000 people, will lose its regional status and be downgraded to county hospital status, linked to Cork University Hospital (CUH). Under this plan, it is also believed Wexford General Hospital would link up with teaching hospitals in Dublin.

There are major fears that the end of the south eastern network would lead to some vital services being transferred from Waterford Regional Hospital. This would mean patients referred to Waterford from Wexford General Hospital would now have to travel even longer distances for medical help.

Last week Minister for Health James Reilly said no decision had yet been made on the issue, however he has said that he is committed to keeping both cancer and trauma services in place at Waterford Regional Hospital.

The report, which is believed to recommend the breakup of the South Eastern Hospital Network is due to be handed to the Minister for Health tomorrow ( Wednesday) and it will then be brought to cabinet.

Saturday's march in response to fears of a downgrading of Waterford Regional Hospital was organised by a lobby group, Save Waterford, who were formed just two weeks ago

' The people of Waterford and the people of the southeast have sent a clear message: don't touch our hospital,' said Andrea Galgey, who organised the non-political protest with Gillian Sauvage Corcoran.

It is feared the downgrading of the hospital would strip vital services and hit young and old people across Waterford, Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny.

Consultant in emergency medicine at WRH, Dr Mark Doyle, has said that the development of the hospital over the past 20 years has been with the view to providing services to the half a million people in the south-east region.

'We believe firmly, and we have spoken to Professor Higgins on this and he did not leave us in any great doubt on what he was thinking, that the breakup of the region is on the cards and we believe this will be severely detrimental for the provision of clinical services to the population of the south-east,' said Dr. Doyle.

Read More

GrabOne Deals

News