HSE to examine St Joseph’s step-down facility idea

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Hundreds of patients waiting for eye appointments at St Joseph’s Care Centre have been given a welcome reprieve after HSE bosses vowed to restore opthamology services.

Hundreds of patients waiting for eye appointments at St Joseph’s Care Centre have been given a welcome reprieve after HSE bosses vowed to restore opthamology services.

The pledge was given by senior executives to a County Council delegation at a meeting held behind closed doors in Longford last week.

It was made after concerns were aired over the need to address an 18-month waiting list across the county.

As a result, HSE chiefs agreed to install a twice weekly opthamologist clinic in a bid to address the backlog.

Meanwhile, assurances were also made to examine whether St Joseph’s could form part of a national roll-out of step-down facilities in order to deal with hospital overcrowding problems.

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

Funding issues surrounding St Christopher’s was also discussed as it awaits the outcome of a service review by health officials.

That had been expected to be completed by the end of March, allowing the Battery Road facility to proceed with its service level agreement with the HSE for 2015.

It’s understood the HSE stumped up €250,000 to meet its cash flow problems that resulted in fears of services being lost last year.

However, and despite reported claims that funding levels would be retained following last week’s meeting, CEO Pat O’Toole said certain questions still remained.

“We would normally sign off on our service level agreement for this year but at the moment we can’t until we get the report,” he said.

Both Fianna Fáil’s PJ Reilly and Fine Gael Cllr Paraic Brady said the meeting last week had been, in the main, largely positive.

“For what it was, the meeting was a very positive and constructive one. The St Joseph’s step-down proposal is still only being discussed at the minute but the opthalmic news is very positive,” Cllr Brady said.

Cllr Reilly echoed those sentiments, adding a community opthalmologist would be in place on a twice weekly basis until waiting lists have been addressed.