Local TD Denis Naughten has expressed surprised at the frank admission by Health Minister James Reilly and HSE Chief Cathal McGee that long stay hospitals for older people will not only see numbers reduced but could in fact be closed to balance the health budget.
Such long stay hospitals locally include: St. Patricks Hospital, Carrick on Shannon; Aras Naomh Caoileann, Mohill; Plunkett Home, Boyle; Aras Mathair Phol, Castlerea; Sacred Heart Hospital, Roscommon; and St. Vincent’s Hospital, Athlone.
Plans have already been drawn up to reduce the number of beds at St. Patrick’s Hospital in Carrick-on-Shannon by 10, with plans awaited on bed reductions at the facilities in County Roscommon.
When questioned on the issue at the Health Committee last Thursday by Denis Naughten, the Minister stated that this was not the final list of bed closures and he would not rule out the complete closure of other facilities.
The HSE Chief also went on to state that facilities with less than 50 beds are unviable. “Based on this it is clear that the HSE is planning for the closure of some facilities locally,” stated Denis Naughten.
Deputy Naughten called for honesty, requesting that the Minister and HSE be upfront and outline exactly what their plans are for these valuable facilities for older people.
He told the committee that presently the constituency of Roscommon/South Leitrim is serviced by six community nursing units, which is 5% of the total number in the country. “However with less than 2% of the population there is a concern that local units are under threat, as the fear is that the higher proportion of older people in our constituency will not be taken into account,” stated Denis Naughten.