GPs and TDs have demanded Bantry General Hospital clarify exactly what services it can and cannot provide as admissions are still being restricted.
They also say consultant cover is urgently needed to fill gaps left by retirement and unavailability.
Staff shortages earlier in the week led to a restriction on admissions. While there were assurances that issues would be resolved by Thursday, that did not happen and, as a result, GPs are now warning that lives are at risk.
Paul O’Sullivan, based at Bantry’s Marino Medical Centre, said: “What is going on is totally unacceptable:
“For the first time in my career, I am afraid serious harm will come to patients as we are left out on a limb due to Bantry Hospital closing to admissions.”
The hospital is supposed to have five consultants but it does not have that complement at present due to retirement and unavailability.
The shortages have impacted on admissions to the hospital’s medical assessment unit, which is normally open Monday to Friday from 9am to 4.30pm.
It normally accepts referrals from GPs or Southdoc — with whom Dr O’Sullivan is working this weekend.
Cork South-West TD Michael Collins said what is going on at the hospital is “wrong on so many fronts”:
"Someone needs to be held accountable for the fact this situation has arisen in the first place. Someone also needs to reassure people in the area this hospital serves that all that can be done is being done."
The South/South West Hospital Group (SSWHG), which runs Bantry Hospital, declined to answer questions sent to it by theon Thursday and Friday.
When approached about the problem by theon Wednesday, a spokesperson admitted there are “staffing issues”.
However, they insisted these would be met through “sourcing locum resources” and there will also be “additional resources available on site in September”.
In the meantime, CUH is — they said — directly supporting emergency services and the local injury unit continues to operate as normal.
The HSE declined to comment, saying it was a matter for the SSWHG.