Mr Noonan said that St John’s, which treats more than 20,000 casualty patients a year, provides a good service. He said: “If it is the case that its services are to be downgraded it is bad news, especially as the A&E at the Mid-Western Regional is already under pressure and a bad situation could become worse.”
Dr Christine O’Malley, a consultant who is on leave from Nenagh General Hospital, said there were realistic concerns about what might happen with the A&E units. She said it would not make sense to close down these units before a larger one was provided.
Dr O’Malley said people are being told go to larger hospitals because they are supposedly safer and cheaper. Smaller units closer to the population are needed and she said the people pushing the centralising of services are based in Dublin with a wide range of hospitals close to them.