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Outrage after hospital turns away children

A major Dublin children's hospital has been forced to stop taking respiratory patients because it has a two-year waiting list.

Family doctors have been told that Temple Street Children's Hospital has closed its respiratory clinic to referrals because of the waiting list.

Children with cystic fibrosis, asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis were all treated at the unit.

It follows the news that the Mater is to close 70 of its 650 beds and reduce its outpatients services by up to 50pc.

Fine Gael health spokesman Dr James Reilly said: "This is not the first time the state of the Irish health service has been exposed by its shameful treatment of children.

"The respiratory clinic in Temple Street treats children with serious conditions like cystic fibrosis, asthma, recurrent pneumonia and bronchitis.

"The fact that it now has a two-year waiting list and has closed to referrals is a disgraceful sign of the way our hospitals are resourced and will have serious consequences for children who need treatment.

"As in the case of Crumlin children's hospital earlier this year this Government is happy to let children suffer the consequences of their broken system.

"As part of Fine Gael's FairCare plans for the health service we want to see hospitals move to a 'money follows the patient' system to change the way hospital resources are allocated so that the patient is always a priority," he said.

"It is completely unacceptable that children with serious underlying conditions are left without services because of the ineptitude of this Government and its appalling inability to manage the health service."

Alarmed

The Labour Party warned of "serious consequences" for the northside of Dublin as a result of the cuts at the Mater.

Dublin Central TD Joe Costello said he was "deeply alarmed" at the cuts announced in the Mater.

Mr Costello said he had been campaigning for more than five years for improved services at the hospital, particularly in the A&E and outpatients departments, "but if these cuts go ahead they will have very serious consequences for those in the huge catchment area served by the hospital. Bed closures will clearly mean longer waiting lists and more suffering for patients," he said.

"Facilities in the A&E department are already totally inadequate, creating huge additional stress for patients and staff alike, and any further cuts would simply make an already intolerable situation even worse."

Mr Costello said it was "not acceptable" that the Mater was "using the excuse of the requirement to reduce the number of hours worked by non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) to justify these cuts".

"Everyone accepts the need to reduce the long hours worked by the NCHDs and the Mater and the HSE has had several years notice that they would be required to apply the terms of the European Working Time Directive to junior hospital doctors," he said.

"Why were additional doctors not recruited in the meantime?

"Once again it appears that the interest of patients is being put at the bottom of the priority list," Mr Costello said.

mlavery@herald.ie


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