'IT'S AN absolute outrage. It's wrong and there's no medical reason for it,' said Cllr. Tómas Sharkey of the HSE cuts announced this week which will see 24 beds close at the Louth County Hospital along with a reduction in agency staff working there.
The Sinn Fein councillor, who is a member of the Save Our Services campaign, said the committee will support whatever action the unions in the hospital take. 'If the unions in the hospital are going out on the streets, the people of Dundalk will be out with them.'
He feared that the cuts, which will leave just 18 beds in the hospital, spells the end of in-patient services in the Dundalk hospital.
'We will be left with eight stroke beds, eight surgical beds and two palliative care beds with the closure of other wards. It's cruel to put those three types of patients in the same ward.'
'I am seriously concerned that this is undermining the Louth County Hospital and its future viability,' he said, adding that Dr Doiminic O Brannigain, Clinical Director, had conceded at a meeting attended by Cllr. Sharkey and Cllr. Alan Grehan that the beds which were being closed at the Dundalk hospital had helped Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda.
'We are also losing a radiographer in the Louth County Hospital which will lead to longer waiting lists for GP referrals and we've already had the chest X-ray scandal in this region.'
'This make Mary Harney look like Florence Nightingale,' he stated. 'These cuts are not about saving money but about closing hospital services.'
'When they closed the acute medical and A&E departments at the Louth we were told these services would be available in Drogheda but now they are closing 16 medical beds in Drogheda and also cutting the opening hours of the Medical Assessment Unit.'
Cllr. Sharkey said he fears that, with the sixth floor of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital now vacant, the HSE will move to transfer the Stroke Rehabilitation Unit out of Dundalk and onto that floor. ' They are cutting a physiotherapist's job in Dundalk and you can't have a stroke unit without a physiotherapist so this further undermines the unit.'