Local TD, Denis Naughten speaking in the Dáil recently, disclosed “HSE plans to transfer services from both Roscommon and Portiuncula Hospitals to Galway”.
He said: “It has been on the agenda of the HSE to downgrade services at both Roscommon and Portiuncula Hospitals since its establishment and current changes to the management structure at both hospitals is the first step in this programme.
“The hidden agenda behind this process is to move accident and emergency and surgery departments from both hospitals to Galway. Currently Galway hospitals are struggling to discharge patients and under the new management structure the patients will be operated on in Galway and then transferred back for respite care to either Portiuncula or Roscommon hospitals.
“This will dramatically reduce the capacity of both local hospitals to deal with emergencies and ongoing surgical procedures. This modus operandi was used in respect of both Ennis and Monaghan hospitals where the management structure was downgraded initially followed by services.
“The HSE had drawn up plans to transfer surgical and A&E services from Roscommon in the short term and from Portiuncula in a five to seven year period, using the downgrading of Monaghan, Ennis and Nenagh hospitals as their blueprint,” concluded Denis Naughten.
Meanwhile, following a meeting with Mary Harney on Friday last, Impact official Padraig Mulligan said the Health Minister had agreed that consultation should take place with staff about HSE West proposals that Portiuncula hospital should report directly to the general manager of University Hospital Galway in future. Mr. Mulligan also said the minister had agreed that there should be consultation over the future location of 40 staff who currently work in Saint Brigid’s hospital in Ballinasloe.
Impact had expressed concern that the HSE West proposal would downgrade Portiuncula and see local services and jobs transferred to Galway as part of HSE West plans to restructure health services in the region. The union had also complained that the HSE had failed to consult over proposals that affect staff, as it is obliged to do by law.
Mr. Mulligan outlined union fears at Friday’s meeting. “Ms. Harney was clearly under the impression that the HSE had fulfilled its obligations to consult its staff and apologised when she heard from HSE officials that this had not happened. She agreed that the consultation process over Portiuncula should now begin.”
Impact also told the minister of concerns that 40 mental health support jobs, currently based at St Brigid’s hospital, could also be reassigned from the locality to Galway following closure of the hospital. Mr. Mulligan said the HSE had agreed with Impact and other unions that, prior to the planned closure of the hospital, the nurses home would be refurbished to provide support for community mental health services in East Galway.
“This agreement is now under threat and Impact is seeking assurances that the service will remain in the locality as it can easily be funded by the sale of the land at St Brigid’s,” he said. The union received assurances from the Minister that there would be consultation on this issue and that she would revert back to them.
Impact, which has told its members not to co-operate with moves to consolidate services in Galway, wrote earlier to Ms. Harney seeking guarantees that there would be no further dilution of services at Portiuncula and Roscommon hospitals.