GENERAL election candidates in West Cork have signed a pledge promising not to be part of any government that plans to downgrade Bantry General Hospital.
The pledges were signed at a public meeting attended by around 600 people after the HSE was accused of “dancing around” the issue of whether or not it plans to downgrade the hospital's acute admissions service in a move that would see ambulances forced instead to go to Cork University Hospital (CUH).
The South/South West Hospital Group and Health Minister Simon Harris has claimed there are no plans to downgrade the hospital.
Local politicians, healthcare workers and members of the public attended the public meeting last night, but Bantry GP Dr Paul O’Sullivan said no HSE representatives turned up.
He said healthcare workers in the region are still waiting on clarification from the HSE surrounding its plans regarding the hospitals’ acute emergency access service.
Dr O’Sullivan said that all general election candidates for Cork South West attended the meeting and pledged they would not take part in any government that would not guarantee the retention of the 24-hour acute emergency access.
He added that, once again, there was “a lot of flowery talk” in statements about previous and planned investment in the hospital, as well as plans to increase theatre days to five per week.
“The Fianna Fáil candidate was unequivocal and gave a direct statement from Micheál Martin that Bantry Hospital services would be maintained as they are.
“All candidates made a point in saying was that this issue is having a very significant impact on the door to door canvassing in West Cork and that it would impact on the final vote,” he said.
“It was a well-run meeting with no haranguing or shouting, but there is a broad feeling that the HSE has become unaccountable with decisions being made in Dublin by unelected officials who won’t suffer the consequences of the withdrawal of services that they inflict.
“They are not taking notice of the local conditions, realities and geography and there is a broad feeling that they don’t care in any case.”