Sinn Féin representative for Cork South West Clare O’Callaghan is calling on the Minister for Health to step in as a matter of extreme urgency and address the serious staffing issues that have led to the closure of the Acute Services Unit in Bantry General Hospital.
Ms O’Callaghan said:
“Over the past number of days, I have been contacted by members of the community who have deep concerns over the ongoing situation in the hospital. Due to retirement and illness the hospital, which four years ago had four consultants, has taken the decision that it is now unsafe to open the Acute Services Unit because only one permanent consultant remains.
“This situation is expected to continue until September at the earliest and patients are being redirected to UCH, their GP or SouthDoc.
“The knock-on effect of the situation means that patients across West Cork are having to wait longer for ambulance services. As a result of the longer distances involved, ambulances are on the road longer to transfer patients into CUH.
“Local GP and SouthDoc services are becoming overwhelmed and are expected to take up the slack with little communication and support from the hospital or HSE. Cork University Hospital will also be feeling the pressure from the increased transfers.
“Last week, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD launched a plan to deliver enough hospital beds to avoid this sort of crisis in hospitals and the acute sector. Urgent action is needed on all fronts and Sinn Féin will be publishing a wide range of measures to address this in our alternative budget this year.
“The role of Bantry Hospital cannot be further undermined as the wider community are aware of downgrades in the past and are now afraid that this situation will get much worse.
“The Minister for Health must recognise the vital role that Bantry Hospital plays in providing for the health and wellbeing of the people of West Cork and South Kerry and as taxpayers they deserve and need the same level of services as every other citizen in the country.
“I have written to Minister Donnelly requesting urgent attention and action in restoring these vital services in Bantry Hospital.”