Management at Bantry General Hospital (BGH) have denied that the HSE plans to downgrade the facility to a model two hospital.
Concerns had been raised by doctors in the region about possible HSE plans to downgrade BGH, with GPs warning that lives would be lost as a result.
However, in a statement released on Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson for BGH said that hospital management wishes to advise that there are no plans by the HSE to downgrade the hospital.
She pointed to recent investments in the hospital and added that “The HSE along with South/South West Hospital Group (SSWHG) are committed to ensuring the hospital continues to develop services locally”.
The Echo has seen correspondence from December 2019 between consultants at BGH and Dr Michael Power, National Clinical Lead for the HSE Critical Care Programme, in which Dr Power suggested that BGH undergo “an orderly transition to Model 2 Hospital”.
Dr Power claimed this would be aided by the Bantry West Cork Community Acute Response Partnership which he proposed as a partnership to strengthen stakeholders in the region “in their responses to seriously ill and seriously injured patients”.
However, GPs in the region claim that this is merely a step toward downgrading the hospital.
In an email sent to GPs in the region recently and seen by The Echo, Dr Giette Wieneke of the Marino Medical Centre in Bantry, revealed that GPs found out about this “life-threatening decision” after several meetings with senior HSE staff.
“GPs initially hoped the new proposed ‘West Cork Community Acute Response Partnership’ was going to change things for the better, increasing funding and resources,” she said.
“During discussions it became apparent that the ‘West Cork Community Acute Response Partnership’ was a vehicle to provide more emergency cover via GPs in preparation for the downgrading of BGH to a Model 2 hospital.” “Local GPs were concerned, angry and disappointed with the announcement believing it to be detrimental to patient care in West Cork,” she added.
“West Cork lives will be lost.”