Castlebar Independent Councillor Michael Kilcoyne claimed the move will result in the facility being downgraded to a sub-hospital and accused Taoiseach Enda Kenny of ‘taking his eye off the ball’ in respect of worrying developments in his own constituency.
Health Minister Dr. James Reilly last month directed the HSE to establish more public hospitals into groups in order to ‘improve management and efficiency’.
He explained the objective is that hospital groups in the same geographic region will operate under the one budget and be set an employment ceiling under group chief executive Bill Maher.
Dr. Reilly stated primary legislation is needed to give full effect to the changes planned but it should be possible in the interim to implement many of the changes on an administrative basis.
However, the breaking news that Mayo General Hospital is to become part of the recently-established Galway/Roscommon University Hospitals Group has led to concerns within the county.
Councillor Kilcoyne said the facility will end up as a secondary hospital like Roscommon and Portiuncula hospitals, with serious implications for staff and patients.
He hit out: “It’s a very serious situation at a time when the Sacred Heart Hospital in the town is also in the process of being further downgraded.
“You have to wonder what is the point in having the Taoiseach in this constituency when so many cuts are allowed to be implemented right under his nose. The Mayo electorate did not sign up to this in the 2011 general election.
“I know for a fact the staff of the hospital are worried about the development and it will also have serious implications for consultants.”
Mayo Fianna Fáil Deputy Dara Calleary has tabled a number of parliamentary questions in regard to the situation.
“I want to know exactly how it will impact on services and staff. Unlike hospitals in Galway, Mayo General Hospital has operated extremely well in terms of meeting it budgetary responsibilities and providing a top class medical service within the constraints placed on it.
“I would be worried that if the hospital has to share a budget with the hospitals in Galway that Mayo will lose out seriously. Once that starts to happen, it will be extremely difficult to regain lost ground.
“I intend gathering all the information I can on this matter over the coming days because of its seriousness.”
Efforts last night (Monday) by The Connaught Telegraph to obtain a statement from the HSE West proved unsuccessful.