Hundreds protest against ongoing admissions restrictions at Bantry General Hospital

The inclement weather was no barrier for hundreds of locals in Bantry, who protested the lack of service at their local hospital earlier today
Hundreds protest against ongoing admissions restrictions at Bantry General Hospital

People protesting against the closing of the Acute Medical Assessment Unit at Bantry General Hospital walking up Bridge St to the Hospital. Picture: Dan Linehan

More than 400 people braced the rain to protest about the ongoing restrictions to admissions at Bantry General Hospital.

The 1pm protest on The Square in Bantry was organised by local health campaigner Jerry Harrington.

It was held amid growing concerns among GPs since restrictions began at the hospital from July 26.

Since then, people have been advised by the South/South West Hospital Group that runs BGH to “consider other care options” before attending the Acute Medical Assessment Unit (AMAU).

 People at the town square in Bantry, Co Cork, where a protest rally and march took place over the closing of the Acute Medical Assessment Unit at Bantry General Hospital. Picture Dan Linehan
People at the town square in Bantry, Co Cork, where a protest rally and march took place over the closing of the Acute Medical Assessment Unit at Bantry General Hospital. Picture Dan Linehan

Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan said: “It’s ridiculous that patients who should be going to the Acute Medical Assessment Unit in Bantry are being brought from places like Castletownbere to CUH, about three hours away.

"It’s not good enough, and it’s something that needs to be rectified.” 

Independent TD Michael Collins slammed what has happened at the hospital.

“It is a failure to deliver for people or Bantry, and the catchment of Bantry General Hospital,” he said.

"I make one promise here — I'll drag this goddamn Government tooth and nail, by the top of the head, to save that hospital, and no one living will stop me.”

 People in the town square Bantry, Co Cork, where a protest march took place over the closing of the Acute Medical Assessment Unit at Bantry General Hospital. Picture: Dan Linehan
People in the town square Bantry, Co Cork, where a protest march took place over the closing of the Acute Medical Assessment Unit at Bantry General Hospital. Picture: Dan Linehan

Commenting on the restrictions, Independent Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae, who also spoke, said: “This decision, and the lack of investment, the lack of commitment is a thundering disgrace.

“There is nothing more important than your health.

"When you need health care, you need it now, and the best you can get it is as near as you can to your own community.” 

Cork South West TD Holly Cairns, who also spoke at the event, later said: “The Government has committed to the fundamentals of Sláintecare. These are based around healthcare at the point of need.

“It is unbelievable to see that in an area like West Cork you wouldn’t have that healthcare.” 

File picture of Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins
File picture of Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The restrictions have prompted widespread concern among GPs.

A group of at least 44 GPs has written to Taoiseach Micheál Martin to complain about the situation at Bantry.

The cause of the problem is a lack of available consultants.

Critics say the hospital did not plan ahead in time to adequately cover retirements, but the S/SWHG says that the issue is down to “unexpected” issues with the recruitment process. The group also says the issue is "short-term", and will be resolved in the coming weeks. 

 Bantry General Hospital's Acute Medical Assessment Unit has been closed over recent days. Picture: Dan Linehan
Bantry General Hospital's Acute Medical Assessment Unit has been closed over recent days. Picture: Dan Linehan

Health minister Stephen Donnelly has also said as much, posting on Twitter that they have "secured locum cover from Friday" and they are working on securing additional cover also. 

The S/SWHG says two additional consultant physicians will be commencing in the hospital on August 23.

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