Dublin South West bye-election candidate John Lahart has said the scale of bed closures at Tallaght Hospital detailed in a leaked secret Government report today cannot be sustained and would put patient safety at unacceptable risk.

Councillor Lahart was responding to reports that 20 beds will be closed at the hospital if the Government presses ahead with more cuts in the health budget next year.

He commented: “The Department of Health’s own report describes these cuts as ‘draconian’ and says they would seriously compromise patient safety.  Tallaght hospital is already under huge pressure from bed closures, A&E overcrowding and growing waiting lists.  Closing another 20 beds is simply unacceptable.  Almost 20% of the people waiting on trolleys in the eastern region yesterday were waiting in Tallaght Hospital.

“Only last month a senior consultant in emergency medicine outlined how Tallaght Hospital is ‘practicing third world medicine’ because of problems with emergency equipment.  Tallaght Hospital needs investment not more drastic budget cuts.

“The Government has consistently failed to bring forward health budgets for the last four years that protect frontline services.  The failure of Fine Gael and Labour to put realistic plans in place for hospitals has meant that management have been put under huge pressure during the year to rein in spending by cancelling operations, closing beds and restricting procedures.  This is no way to manage one of the biggest and busiest hospitals in the country.

“Tallaght Hospital is serving a massive catchment area of over almost half a million people.  The hospital cannot sustain further cuts on this scale.  Furthermore the planned 20 bed closures at St. Vincent’s, Beaumont, The Mater, St. James’ and Connolly will push the health services across Dublin into a tail spin.

“I am urging the Government to immediately rule out any bed closures and funding cuts for Tallaght Hospital next year while management and staff work to stabilise services for patients.”