Patients walk off wards to join A&E protests
PATIENTS hobbled out of wards yesterday to demand a government U-turn on controversial accident and emergency unit closures at three Irish general hospitals.
A major protest was staged outside Mallow General Hospital by locals furious that the Cork facility now faces losing its 24-hour A&E unit.
The unit is scheduled to close next November, while another Co Cork hospital, Bantry, is likely to lose its A&E before then.
A number of patients walked off the wards and joined nurses, hospital workers and locals protesting against the downgrading of Mallow.
"I'm here because I wanted to show my solidarity with the nurses and staff -- they are second to none and deserve a lot better than this," patient Joe Crowley, from Mitchelstown, said. Mr Crowley was admitted to Mallow on July 6 with a stomach complaint.
"Lives will definitely be lost over the A&E closure. I don't believe for a minute the promises they have made about the new facilities to be opened here," he added.
William Ryan -- a patient from Glantane -- said he was also determined to join the protest to show his personal support for the hospital.
"When I knew the protest was on I wasn't going to stay inside on the ward and do nothing," he said.
The HSE has said Mallow's A&E unit will be replaced by an urgent care centre which will operate 12 hours a day. From November, all major emergency cases will be referred directly to Cork University Hospital.