A U-TURN is on the cards as the Health Service Executive plans to open, on a 24-hour basis in July, a €5 million A&E at the Mercy University Hospital in Cork.
There was outrage earlier this year when hospital management announced the A&E unit — completed since March — would only open on a 12-hour basis.
It had blamed a lack of funding to ensure staff availability for not providing round-the-clock cover.
Cllr Catherine Clancy told a HSE (South) forum yesterday it was “ridiculous” for a city centre hospital to consider running an A&E department on a part-time basis.
She said 10,000 — or 40% of the 25,000 patients who attended A&E units in Cork last year — did so after 8pm.
The HSE had planned to open the facility on an 8am to 8pm basis.
But pressure groups, in recent weeks, campaigned to have the CUMH unit opened on a 24/7 basis.
Gerry O’Dwyer, hospital network manager for the Southern Hospitals’ Group, said discussions were continuing between the HSE and CUMH management and a recruitment process for qualified A&E staff commenced last weekend.
“Dialogue has opened with unions as a result of which a number of focus groups and commissioning groups have been established to plan the move to the new unit,” Mr O’Dwyer said. “The projected opening date for the unit is late July 2008 and the aspiration is it will open on a 24/7 basis at that stage.”
Meanwhile, there was also some good news for the 9,600-plus children on a waiting list for BCG tuberculosis vaccination in the Cork area.
Cllrs Clancy and Tim Lombard (Fine Gael) both highlighted the issue, emphasising the need for immunisation with a recent rise in cases being reported in Cork.
An EU-wide shortage of vaccine led to a curtailment of immunisation last year.
However, HSE’s Pat Healy said a roll-out of immunisation clinics was being prepared to address the waiting list.
The arrangements, he said, would also involve the establishment of a neonatal service to newborns at CUMH where BCG vaccination will be made available on request.
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