It has come to light that the government plan is designed to dismantle publicly funded emergency care, it is my opinion that they will never be forgiven if it closes critical A&E units
Proposals by the Department of Health and the HSE to close nine A&E units across the country is dangerous and WILL put lives at risk.
Nowhere is that clearer than in the midlands and mid-Leinster where the hospital units in Mullingar, Naas and Portlaoise are being targeted.
This will leave huge areas of the most heavily populated part of the country without adequate 24 hour emergency care at major hospitals.
Over 300,000 people will be put at unnecessary risk due to this flawed policy which needs to be halted at once and requires the unequivocal intervention of the Minister for Health and his Fianna Fail counterpart, as part of the government agreement.
It cannot be allowed to happen.
It’s not too much to say that lives will most certainly be lost in the plan to slash the number of A&E's countrywide from 29 to 20.
It’s a perfect example of looking at the health service as a black and white numbers game.
It does not tie with the realities of service provision on the ground, the historical under resourcing and staffing of these units, and the current excessive demands on all these centres 24/7.
Everyone in the area knows and understands that existing A&E units are overcrowded, stretched to the limit and in dire need of additional resources, NOT CUTBACKS.
Patients on trolleys and day long queues at these A&Es know all this full well as do nurses, ambulance drivers and other full time staff, who have constantly highlighted their well-founded concerns.
The response from the Department and HSE is to move forward with a plan to shut down busy A&E units, downgrade the hospitals in Mullingar, Portlaoise and Naas in addition to six other centres.
This will without any doubt compound the problems of delays at the already dangerously overstretched emergency units at hospitals. If implemented the proposals would severely impact local and rural GP services, particularly out-of-hours who haven't got the resources and can't cope with any additional demands, let alone the large influx of patients that would flow from this.
Neither is the ambulance service designed or capable of handling the transfer of patients and by-pass protocols which would drive this latest grand theory of the HSE management.
Ostensibly, these proposals are based on patient safety, anything but. Children don't get sick 9 to 5; elderly people don’t take ill only during the day; accidents most often occur on the dead of night. Where are these people to go?
The claim is that these A&E units are not safe at night.
That they don't have an emergency consultant on call or sufficient resources. Well then if that's the case, the answer is not to close them, but to staff them, make them safe. I won't stand for anything less.
We need to stand together as a community on this and we need our elected T.D’s to come out fighting on our behalf.
Councillor Noel Tuohy
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