Delegation meets
Health Minister to discuss plans for St Joseph’s

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar has vowed to look “very positively” on calls to make St Joseph’s Care Centre a step down facility for the midlands.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has vowed to look “very positively” on calls to make St Joseph’s Care Centre a step down facility for the midlands.

The pledge came during talks Mr Varadkar held with a Fine Gael Council delegation from Longford last Wednesday night.

Local TD James Bannon joined Cllrs Peggy Nolan, Micheal Carrigy and Paul Ross for the meeting which was held inside Leinster House.

Mr Bannon said the hour long discussion had proved more than favourable with the Health Minister.

“This is something which has been talked about and proposed for a long time,” said Mr Bannon.

“It (St Joseph’s) is ideal as a step down facility. It has a GP out of hours service, a physiotherapy service and a radiology department which are all connected to the national IT service.”

The Legan politician also revealed Mr Varadkar hoped to visit the Dublin Road campus as well as St Christopher’s at a later stage.

Calls for a nationwide roll-out of step down facilities emerged earlier this year in response to hospital overcrowding problems.

A recent study carried out by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation found more than 400 beds for the elderly are currently lying idle in community hospitals and public nursing homes.

News of the meeting with Mr Varadkar last week comes hot on the heels of a recent meeting councillors held with HSE chiefs.

That culminated in assurances the HSE would “examine” the St Joseph’s step down facility idea.

Cllr Peggy Nolan, who formed part of last week’s Council’s delegation, has previously spoken of the need for a “clinical control plan” to ensure the best possible use is made from the Dublin Road campus.