Déardaoin, Lúnasa 05, 2010

Protest Against Hospital Cuts - Letterkenny Sat Aug 7


As people will already be aware, the Health Service Executive (HSE), on behalf of their political masters in Leinster House, are preparing to cut staff numbers and slash services at hospitals throughout the country. This includes both Letterkenny and Sligo General Hospitals here in the north west. The future of other smaller units such as Lifford Community Hospital and the Sheil hospital in Ballyshannon are also under threat.

As this blog has regularly highlighted the cutbacks already imposed on our hospitals and health service in general, have caused immense suffering and hardship to patients. According to the main nursing union, the INMO "the level of cuts, currently being imposed upon our public health service, are compromising patient care, lowering standards and greatly increasing the clinical risk to patients."

Following their carrying out of a comprhensive review of the entire Health Service, the INMO said that they discovered the following:

  • Over 1,500 public beds are closed including beds in hospitals designated as Centres of Excellence resulting in longer waiting time for essential treatment

  • Very high levels of A&E overcrowding with over 300 people on trolleys, awaiting a bed, on nine days in July as compared to one in July 2009

  • Primary care services being curtailed, or suspended indefinitely, due to a shortage of nursing staff

  • Intellectual disability services being curtailed, suspended or eliminated altogether, again due to the shortage of human or financial resources; and

  • Frontline staff, in nursing, midwifery and other support grades, not being replaced resulting in frontline direct patient care services being compromised.

Letterkenny General Hospital

Amongst the latest cuts planned by the HSE for Letterkenny General Hospital are believed to be a plan to cut the working hours of 94 members of staff on fixed term contracts by eight hours each. Such cutbacks will result in a devestating loss of income for these workers, particularly those who are only part-time.

What these cutbacks will mean for patients are yet more operating theatre and bed closures, more people left lying on trolleys, cancelled operations, longer waiting lists and unnecessary and increased suffering and even deaths.

The INMO General Secretary, Liam Doran has claimed that the cuts being implemented are being
"imposed in a manner which is unsafe" and are a result of the Croke Park Agreement between the Dublin government and ICTU on public pay reform.

Speaking on Tuesday he said that patients "are entitled to quality assured services when they need them and public patients cannot be treated like second class citizens when compared to those who can afford private healthcare at this time”.

He added: “The INMO voted against the Croke Park proposals primarily on the basis that they require 6,000 posts to be taken out of our health service in a haphazard, uncontrolled and unplanned manner with scant regard for the impact upon patients and their needs and requirements. We are now seeing the real impact of this flawed approach."

Sligo General Hospital

And while people are rightly horrified at these latest plans to cut services in our hospitals, even worse is set to follow. In the upcoming budget, Health Minister Mary Harney is seeking a further cut of €600 million off the health budget. Unless they are forced to halt these cutbacks and actually invest in creating an efficient first class health service for all, we will very soon be left no public health service at all.

This Saturday (August 7) a march and rally has been organised in Letterkenny, Co.Donegal to protest against the HSE's proposed cutbacks. The march, which will commence from the Station roundabout in the town at 12 midday and proceed to the hospital, has been organised by the newly formed Save Donegal Health Services campaign group.

The group is comprised of the three main health care trade unions, INMO, SIPTU and IMPACT. Other groups involved include the Irish Kidney Association, Donegal Action Cancer Campaign, Friends of Letterkenny General Hospital, Co-operating for Cancer Care North West and the General Voice of Older People Donegal.

Health Cuts Protest Lifford

éirígí are urging people throughout the north west to attend Saturday's protest march in large numbers. The HSE and their political masters in Leinster House need to realise and to see that as a community we are sick and tired of the savage cuts being imposed on us, at the same time as they bail out the banks to the tune of tens of billions of euro and as they feather their own nests and that of that of the wealthy business elite.

The people of the north west and the people of Ireland deserve a first class public health service properly funded, resourced and staffed. It is our right, not some privilege to be dispensed at the discretion of overpaid and uncaring politicians who are intent on dismantling it and privatising it in order to make profits for their cronies within the business sector.

Once again, the message is clear. Fund our hospitals, not the banks.

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