The HSE has been criticised by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) for their decision to close Mallow General Hospital’s Medical Assessment Unit (MAU), saying it will put patient safety at risk.
Earlier this week, hospital staff were told that the unit would close for one month due to lack of medical cover, and workers were advised to take leave or be redeployed.
INMO Industrial Relations Officer for the hospital, Liam Conway, called this move "disastrous" for the people of north Cork.
Mr Conway said patient safety is being put at risk and staff are being treated unfairly.
“Throughout COVID, frontline staff have shown nothing but dedication to providing safe care. They are shocked at this decision, with serious concerns about patients being forced to travel far to Cork city for often urgent care.
“The manner in which staff were notified of the decision is simply unacceptable and has caused significant uncertainty and stress to all.
“The INMO has sought immediate talks with management to protect services. The South/South West Hospital Group needs to intervene to keep this vital service open,” he said.
The hospital’s MAU is where the vast majority of patients are admitted to the hospital.
Frontline nurses in Mallow have warned that many patients will have to divert to Cork city hospitals – which are over 40km away and already face significant overcrowding.
Labour TD, Sean Sherlock, has said this decision is forcing patients into the “narrow funnel” that is CUH.
“The idea that patients would have to go to CUH for inpatient treatment when they can be treated in Mallow safely makes no sense in an already under-resourced and understaffed hospital network,” he said.
Mr Sherlock added that it has “always been the case of Mallow General Hospital (MGH), you go two steps forward and one step back.”
“This is yet another example where we have to fight the HSE and fight the health minister in respect to ensuring that services are retained at MGH.
"There is no need to be putting further pressure on CUH if the services can be retained at MGH, who do excellent work,” he said.