A MOTHER of three sons who depend on a local hospital for regular care for their individual conditions is worried local facilities will be ultimately downgraded.
"They're promising the sun, moon and stars but it's no good without the budget," said Marina Butler whose three young sons are all patients at Waterford Regional Hospital.
She said the jury remains out on yesterday's announcement.
"A lot of the politicians think it's a great thing, but I couldn't see anything great about it. Great that the services are being retained, but for how long? It's like they're saying, 'we'll give them this and it will shut them up'."
Marina and her sons Sean (15), Jamie (12) and Eric (11), all of whom are all-too-familiar with the inside of the regional hospital on the edge of Waterford city, are not convinced by promises from the government that services such as oncology, cardiology and trauma will remain in place.
WRH is to link up with Cork University Hospital as part of a new South/South-West hospital group and, according to minister James Reilly, it has "a vibrant future".
But nothing is guaranteed, Ms Butler said.
"If they had control of the budget, that's the biggest thing. But if WRH wants to issue a heart monitor, for example, and you have to go to Cork to pay for it, it's kind of ridiculous."
Eldest son Sean has attended clinics in WRH for ADHD, while Jamie has type-1 diabetes.
But it's Eric who has spent the most time in its wards, with a rare genetic condition, TOF-Vacterl Syndrome, which affects his heart, kidney, spine and oesophagus.
"He was reared in the hospital," she said.
"He goes home on visits. But we're lucky because in the last few weeks he hasn't been there a lot."
Eric has also been in Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and Our Lady's in Crumlin but WRH is his emergency department and the family live in the Kilcarra Drive area in Ballygunner, Waterford, just minutes from the hospital doors.
Any reduction in major services down the line, Ms Butler said, would have knock-on effects for paediatrics as the specialties wouldn't be on location in Waterford. For now, it's wait and see.
"As far as I know, they need so many patients to avail of the services so, if they're splitting all that up, patients are going to be all over the country. That won't happen today or tomorrow, but it's all a waiting game."