Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has said it is essential that Minister James Reilly come clean on what appears to be a secret plan to implement further cuts to hospital services across the country.
“This has all the hallmarks of another deeply cynical exercise from Minister Reilly. In the weeks leading up to last year’s budget it was the Minister for Health who featured most prominently in pre-budget leaks about the dreadful cuts facing the health sector and the lengths he was going to in order to limit the impact on patients. Now, after a disastrous performance in managing the budget for this year, the process seems to be in train again.
“Reports of further hospital services being withdrawn across the country will cause huge fear in communities and require clarity from Minister Reilly.
“In particular the prospect of downgrading of Waterford Regional Hospital is extremely worrying. Serving a population of 500,000, WRH plays a pivotal and leading role in health care in the south east. Minister Reilly must immediately clarify if Waterford Regional Hospital is to be downgraded to a county hospital, with services possibly moving to Kilkenny, or if it will remain as the main medical hub for the south east region.
“Unnecessary leaks which serve only to strike fear into communities on a issue as sensitive as health care are extremely disappointing. It speaks to the dysfunctional approach the Minister has brought to the Department of Health. For example why has the report on the Framework for Development of Smaller Hospitals been delayed time and again? Clarity, openness and transparency are the least that people should expect from this Government – it’s what they were promised.
“Minister Reilly should take the opportunity to clarify in the Dáil this week if further cuts to hospital services are being planned, what hospitals are concerned and what consultation process he is putting in place before any such changes are made.”