Fianna Fáil Senator Marc Mac Sharry has blasted the Minister for Health James Reilly after it was confirmed that Sligo and Leitrim will lose 37 hospital beds this year.

Senator MacSharry was commenting on the publication today of the HSE West Service Plan 2012, which reveals that funding for the health services in this region will be cut by €104 million, or 5.2%, this year.

The HSE plan for the region, which has already been approved by the Health Minister James Reilly, has targeted Sligo General Hospital, St John’s Hospital and St Patrick’s Hospital in Carrick on Shannon for bed closures.

“I’m astounded by the fact that the government have been so blatant in breaking their promises to the people of the North West. It is less than a year ago that the Fine Gael and Labour parties promised to restore and enhance health services for people in the region. This is further compounded by the fact that the list of cutbacks includes a glaring absence of a return of cancer services, follow-up mammography and the establishment of a colonoscopy centre. This is another example of the blatant disregard by the government of the people of the North West.

The Health Minister James Reilly has approved proposals to make a series of cuts to community healthcare across the North West

“These cuts target older people in particular,” said Senator Mac Sharry. “ Overall, ten beds are to be closed at Sligo General Hospital; 17 beds are to close at St John’s in Sligo and ten beds are to be shut at St Patrick’s in Carrick on Shannon. By closing beds in community hospitals you automatically put pressure on acute hospitals and the government’s answer is to incredibly close beds in these hospitals too.

“In addition Minister Reilly plans to shut down up to 898 community hospital beds nationwide this year. It isn’t difficult to see that patients will be the losers in this. I am calling on the Minister for Health to review these decisions and immediately reinstate the beds throughout the North West that are to close,” concluded Senator MacSharry.