Anger over ward closure

The HSE is being asked to guarantee that a ward closure in a community hospital in north Cork will be temporary and not permanent, as some county councillors fear.

Standing orders were suspended at a meeting in County Hall when Cllr Deirdre O’Brien raised the ward closure at Fermoy Community Hospital. She said the HSE had confirmed it will shortly close a 12-bed ward because of staff shortages.

“But we have reason to believe it could be long-term and want to take immediate action to stop that happening,” she told colleagues.

She said the ward is for short stays and its closure would cause stress to full-time carers, who depend on the hospital for respite for relatives or those in need of convalescence after surgery.

“In January of this year, it was announced by then minister Kathleen Lynch that Fermoy hospital was allocated €2m in funding under the government’s 2016-2021 capital spending plan. This was to ensure the best facilities are available for residents and their families... What I’d like to know is: Where is this investment?”

Cllr O’Brien said the HSE should have had replacements lined up when it knew there would be staff shortages.

Cllr Frank O’Flynn, who seconded her motion, said staff at the hospital were very worried that the closure could be permanent.

Cllr Noel McCarthy said he had contacted the HSE and had been informed that 12 of the 72 beds were to close shortly and reopen in September, adding: “We need clarification on this though.”

Cllrs Kay Dawson and Ian Doyle also agreed that the issue needed to be resolved.

“My worry is the ward will not be opened again. Where do the 12 patients go in the meantime? We need a 100% assurance from the HSE that it will reopen,” Cllr June Murphy said.

Cllr Declan Hurley, who is chairman of the Friends of Bantry General Hospital, said he would be very concerned about ward closures and he gave his support to the north Cork councillors.

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