A group of the country's most senior medical experts today launched an attack against the Government’s controversial Hanly report.
The doctors rejected the recommendations of the report on reform of the country’s health services as flawed and unworkable.
Hanly recommends the closure of certain acute admissions departments and the downgrading of local hospitals in favour of centralising services in regional centres of excellence.
Speaking in Dublin, the doctors said the fundamental principles of the report were dangerous and that hospitals should be kept local for local people.
Dr Christine O’Malley a consultant from Nenagh General Hospital, said: “People think that smaller hospitals have smaller volumes of patients with smaller problems.
“But a heart attack is a heart attack.”
“You can’t fit the people from three hospitals into the beds of one – where there is already no room.”
Dr John Barton from Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe added that the report was wrong for rural Ireland.
“The people who are going to be most adversely affected by this report are the elderly and poorer patients,” he said.
“The concept of moving elderly patients from smaller hospitals, from their local communities and families, into larger hospitals is wrong.”
“The Hanly concept is that the bigger hospital is best.
“But why downgrade these smaller hospitals?
“Hanly is a prescription written for people, not with people and it’s driving people in rural Ireland crazy.”
Independent TD Dr Jerry Cowley, called for better investment in local hospitals.
“Hanly is good for Dublin, good for Cork and good for Galway but it is not good for anyone else,” he said.
“It is totally unpractical.
“If someone in Nenagh is bleeding to death the only thing that will save his life is an emergency operation and that person has a far greater risk of dying if he has to travel to Limerick for treatment.”
“Response times are only going to get worse.
“Hanly is dangerous for your health.”
Responding to the Taoiseach’s announcement last week that it would take 10 years to implement the Hanly Report, Dr O’Malley added: “We haven’t got 10 years.
“The health service is in crisis.
“My colleagues cannot wait 10 years, the patients cannot wait 10 years.”
She added that she was confident the report would not be implemented because it simply wasn’t possible.
“The potential for disaster is huge,” she said.
David Hanly, Chairman of the Task Force on Medical Staffing, has described the recommendations of the Hanly Report as “the distilled wisdom of the medical profession”.