A MAYO member of the Oireachtas has raised fresh concerns over the future of the district hospital network, specifically with regard to Belmullet hospital.
Speaking in An Seanad, Senator Dr. Keith Swanick said on May 31 the HSE announced that all temporary staff would not have their contracts renewed and that all agency staff would be let go with immediate effect.
He elaborated: “This came as a bolt from the blue for the staff, the community and the GPs, including myself. If staff numbers are diminished it would lead to a direct degradation of the hospital.
“It has been fiercely opposed by the community and I commend Senator Conway-Walsh for facilitating a public meeting last Monday at which there was a massive turnout.
“I have spoken on many occasions in this House, on the Order of Business or in Commencement debates with the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, about the district hospital network.
“These hospitals play a vital role in preventing admissions to, and facilitating discharges from, acute hospitals and this is especially important in the case of the hospital to which I refer, which is over 50 miles away from Castlebar.
“The district hospital network should not be seen as a relic of a bygone era as, with appropriate investment, its hospitals can facilitate respite care.
“GPs and public health nurses can admit patients to these hospitals and some of them even have palliative care beds.
“They get people off trolleys in acute hospitals because patients can be referred back to the district hospital. They are a vital cog in the delivery of a modern health system.”