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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wexford Hospital on life support

I’m shocked at the resignation of Dr Colm Quigley as as lead in the reconfiguration of hospitals in the south east region of the HSE. Earlier this week I met Dr Quigley at a meeting to set up a Community Alliance to support Wexford General Hospital. He didn’t convey the image of someone who was on the verge of resignation. So what has happened this week to culminate in his resignation?

A good old fashioned piece of journalism on the part of South East Radio. The leaking of a confidential document outlining proposals to downgrade A&E long with the planned transfer of maternity to Waterford Regional Hospital was a seemingly a step too far for Dr Quigley. The document set out that 2 hospitals in the region Kilkenny and Waterford would provide most of the regions general needs while Wexford would provide A&E cover on a 9-5 basis.

A&E is crucial to any hospital since most of the workload comes through the A&E department. For anyone in Enniscorthy, Gorey or Wexford the local hospital is the only alternative to a long drive to either Waterford or Lughlinstown. Dr Colm Quigley is a very strong advocate for Wexford and his role on the reconfiguration team did give a certain level of comfort to us in Wexford that the hospital would in some way have a future after services were reconfigured. Now all bets are effectively off and it seems that the gloves are quickly coming off and that just 1 week after the ending of Irish Rail services in to Rosslare from Waterford, Wexford is once more going to lose out.

The real effect of the resignation will be that morale among hospital staff will slump as Fianna Fail and the Greens stand back while Mary Harney and the Hse do their dirty work. The usual old guff about no cuts have been proposed and that money is ring fenced serves as the comfort blanket by government TD’s and councillors. The reality is that the reduction in HSE capital spending will mean that the service will be cut before the A&E in Waterford is built, an adequate ambulance service will not be in place to ensure that patients can access services and Labour will be left to clear up this governments mess.

Recently someone asked me will Labour force Irish Rail to re-open the Waterford rail line. I responded “Tell me what you want me to cut to provide the money?” That’s not to suggest I’m flakey on re-opening the line, I’m not. The wider reality is that there is so much damage done now it’ll take decades to undo the last few years of government.

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