Fianna Fáil TD for Cork East, Kevin O’Keeffe has said that he is dismayed by the failure of the HSE to maintain services as a result of staff going on extended leave or maternity cover.

Deputy O’Keeffe was commenting after receiving a reply from the HSE confirming that as a result of increased maternity leave in the North Cork area, the Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service is being withdrawn from May 2018.

“This will undoubtedly lead to major gaps in the local service for people. This service was very important for people needed advice and support, for example, after they were discharged from hospital. It will also affect people living with diabetes or those who are obese and who need support to lose weight.

“We have a severe lack of cover in many areas of the health service. This is just another example of the failure of the Government to adequately recruit and retain specialist staff in core areas.

“The HSE has told me that they are actively recruiting for maternity leave cover but it seems to be too little too late. The service has already been withdrawn and people are going to miss out on critical advice and support.

“The need to provide maternity cover would have been indicated to the HSE by the staff member involved some months prior to her start date. What have the HSE been doing since that point to ensure cover and to ensure that this service continued.

“It’s very unfair that the people of North Cork will lose out for no reason other than their location. We have seen this issue arise before with the failure of the HSE to recruit a Medical Officer for the Community Hospital in Fermoy.

“The Government need to get a grip on recruitment for the health services. It’s now causing entire services for our communities to be withdrawn. It’s not acceptable in 2018,” concluded O’Keeffe.