“Reconfiguration of our health services involves the expansion of some services as well as the opening of new services and facilities, a point cynically omitted from the technical group’s motion. This motion is an attempt to exploit fear for a quick headline. Any reasonable approach to the core issue would at the very least consider and recognise that the Department and HSE are opening new facilities and expanding some services.
Part of this motion refers to changes taking place in Cork, yet it is noticeable that not one Cork Deputy has put their name to the motion.
The decision by the HSE to reconfigure health services in Cork city was made in November 2009, a decision made when my constituency colleague Deputy Martin sat at the Cabinet table. Listening to his public statements on this, and on many other issues, he has obviously forgotten the principle of collective responsibility.
Since the HSE announced the changes in Cork I have been in regular contact with local lead staff. I have arranged meetings with key managers to discuss these issues. I have expressed concerns about the roll out of the changes, how the changes are being communicated and I have asked that there will be independent assessment of the new services to determine if they are delivering improved health care.
The motion refers to the closing of the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital A&E, what it doesn’t do, is mention that:
• An Acute Medical Assessment Unit will open in December at CUH;
• A surgical assessment unit will open in CUH in early 2012;
• An Urgent Care Centre will open in mid-January at St. Mary’s, Gurranabraher;
• A regional pain management service will open in December at SIVUH;
• Orthopaedic surgery capacity will double and
• Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgery services will return to Cork for the first time in years, after being abolished by the previous Government.
The plans outline a clear, comprehensive restructuring of health services in Cork. However I am all too aware that public confidence in the reconfiguration programme has been shaken over the last number of years. Mismanagement and a lack of political leadership have eroded trust and confidence in the ability of the HSE to deliver change. This is why I believe that we need independent verification of any changes. We need independent verification of the claims by the HSE that proposed changes will result in improved delivery of services. Therefore I am calling on HIQA to get involved in this process. This would offer people much needed reassurance on the quality of available services.
After seven months in office the blame for every problem in the health service cannot be laid at the feed of the current Minister for Health. The Minister understands that reform of the Health service is badly needed; that is why he has proposed radical changes in how health services are delivered. The roll out of these changes will not happen immediately, it will take a number of years for the entire change he has envisaged to take effect. While he is implementing reform there will be plenty of opportunity for cheap political stunts, to gain a quick headline. There will be plenty of opportunity for the technical group to jump out of their seats without ever making a positive contribution to the reform being implemented by the Minister and supported by the clear majority of voters last February.”