Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary has said it is totally unacceptable that the HSE is proposing cuts to services for older people in County Mayo, at a time when over €61 million is owed to the HSE West by private health insurance companies.


Deputy Calleary raised the matter of bed closures at St. Joseph’s District Hospital Ballina with Minister of State at the Department of Health Roisin Shorthall in the Dáil today, Wednesday 30 November 2011.


Deputy Calleary commented, “There is a genuine fear across County Mayo, and in Ballina in particular, that step-down services are being slashed as a result of HSE Budget constraints. I raised the matter of impending bed closures at Ballina District Hospital in the Dáil on Wednesday afternoon and I am extremely disappointed and angry that the Minister confirmed that 12 beds are to close, reducing the hospital’s overall capacity to 50.


“I raised the matter as a Topical Issues Debate in the Dáil today, and I clearly outlined to the Minister the fantastic services available at Ballina District Hospital. These vital services include  step-down facilities for patients discharged from Mayo General who require a further period of convalescence before being discharged home; step-down facilities for patients identified as requiring a Long Stay Bed in a Community Nursing Unit; outpatients clinics including surgical, medical, paediatric, orthopaedic, while G.P.’s also refer patients for admission, physiotherapy and X-Ray.


“I highlighted the fact that the county’s acute hospital Mayo General is performing very well as result of the level of step-down service available at our three district hospitals. Any cut to services in our district hospitals will undermine the ability of Mayo General to maintain its present level of performance.


“A total of 60 community nursing unit bed closures have already been announced and now we are facing a further 12 at Ballina District Hospital. This is completely unacceptable given that the HSE West has confirmed that €61 million is owing to them because Consultants have failed to return claim forms to private health companies. It beggars believe that services for older people should suffer as a result.


“Minister Shorthall agreed that the HSE needs to be more pro-active in its attempts at recovering this €61 million. I am now calling upon Minister for Health James Reilly, who has taken personal control of the HSE since April, and Government Deputy Michelle Mulherin, to ensure that the failure to recover this sum, does not infringe upon services for older people in Ballina and across Co Mayo,” said Deputy Calleary.