Waterford City Fianna Fáil Councillor Gary Wyse has said he is deeply worried about the impact on patients of savage cuts to the health services in Waterford this year. Reacting to details of the HSE South service plan for 2012, Cllr Wyse described plans to target Waterford Regional Hospital for severe cuts this year as a costly mistake.
Cllr Wyse said: “It seems as if the Minister for Health James Reilly has singled out Waterford for particularly savage cuts this year. The Minister has approved a 10% cut in funding for the biggest hospital in the south east region. This includes closing 25 surgical beds, an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), an operating theatre and 4 paediatric beds.
“There is no doubt that this will impact on patient care in the South East. Waiting lists will increase, overcrowding is likely to get worse and staff will be under even more pressure than they already are. People are struggling to understand how Minister Reilly can justify these cuts, at a time when he is also cutting beds at community hospitals, pushing patients into the acute hospital system.
“In addition to the cuts at Waterford Regional, Minister Reilly has also approved plans to close 13 beds at Dungarvan Community Hospital. This is an excellent facility that plays a crucial role in our local health services. Shutting down 13 beds at this facility this year will have a ripple effect right across healthcare provision in this region. It is an extremely short-sighted move that will end up costing our health services more in the long-run.
“We will now have a situation where patients are being pushed out of community hospitals, putting further pressure on Waterford Regional Hospital which is also being forced to bear savage cuts. It isn’t difficult to see that patients will be the losers in this.
“People are genuinely worried that this is the thin end of the wedge. There is a real fear that the cuts we will see over the next few months signals the beginning of moves to wind down Dungarvan Community Hospital. Since Minister Reilly came into power, he has pursued an agenda of closing community hospital beds around the country and earmarking some facilities for outright closure. This plan will see up to 898 community hospital beds nationwide closing this year.
“I am appealing to Minister Reilly to see the bigger picture here. The combination of downgrading community hospitals while closing beds at acute hospitals will cause chaos in our local health services,” said Cllr Wyse.