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Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Politics of Envy

When you live in a society where cutting is almost a sacrament, It had to come to this. The “controversy” about funding the extension of Wexford General Hospital A&E is evidence of a new type of politics, where an austerity ethos  can be used to varnish reality.  So forgive me for throwing out a few facts to spoil the party or indeed the Sinn Fein or Fianna Fail party lines.

Wexford General Hospital annually treats over 33,000 patients at it’s A&E.  The A&E is housed in a converted pharmacy in the hospital since it was built about 20 years ago because funding at the time was not provided for the planned  A&E.  The A&E serves much of the county as well as Arklow.  I’ve brought my kids, pupils and neighbours to the hospital where I’ve nothing but praise for the hospital and its staff.

The failure to provide a proper A&E in Wexford has always been the hospital’s week spot.  In 2007 Wexford General Hospital was a priority for construction or so local FF TD John Browne told us at a meeting in Wexford in 2006.  When no progress was made on the matter another protest meeting and March followed in 2010.  All the time while Fianna Fail were telling us the project would proceed an application to extend Waterford Regional Hospital’s A&E to a capacity of 80,000 was going through planning. There was never a suggestion that the new A&E there would mean Wexford A&E would close as Waterford naturally had New Ross and Carrick on Suir in its hinterland and reconfiguration would see south Tipperary A&E being cared for in Waterford.  It’s a great pity that Sinn Fein & Fianna Fail are playing the old trick of playing one town off against another.  Unfortunately it is backfiring in Wexford and will back fire elsewhere soon enough.

During the 2011 General Election the single biggest issue in Wexford was the retention of the local A&E services.  Labour unashamedly campaigned to retain the services and to lobby for the A&E to go ahead.  The revelation that the hospital was not prioritised in the HSE capital program is a statement of facts that was common knowledge at the time, there is nothing new in what RTE’s “This Week” broadcast today.  The facts are the project went backwards when FF were telling us it was going ahead!

Secondly all this nonsense on the part of the Board of the HSE about not sanctioning the project until July 2011.  I was Mayor when the project was announced and was present at the announcement. So too was the senior HSE official who we on the council were told was in the lead in relation to the development work.  how do I know that he was in the lead? Because when the council wrote to the HSE looking to meet with it, the board referred us to the same official!!  In the picture above you’ll see Brendan Howlin cutting the ribbon on the new Scanner on the day he announced the A&E was going ahead.  Surrounding him are the Clinical Director and Hospital Manager.  Speaking on the rostrum that day was the senior official nominated by the HSE in relation to the extension work.   There wasn’t a sign of any stroke being pulled.  Perhaps the HSE may have internal communication problems?

 So here’s the rub make a promise on a campaign and keep it and Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail will clobber you.  On the other hand if you make a promise and don’t implement it quick enough the same parties will attack you for breaking your promise.

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