Health minister says he has no plans to remove any hospital services

Eamonn Lacey

Eamonn Lacey

Health Minister James Reilly has given the clearest indication yet that he is not prepared to stand over a clearout of acute hospital services from South Tipperary General Hospital.

In a reassuring statement on the future of the Clonmel hospital, Minister Reilly said he had no plans to remove services from the hospital which have been under threat for some time.

Plans to reconfigure acute hospital services in the south east, with Clonmel set to lose A&E, surgery, maternity and other acute services, were at an advanced stage when Minister Reilly intervened last March.

At that time he put a halt to reconfiguration plans and said no services would be lost until a review was carried out in each case.

This week Minister Reilly gave those involved in the campaign to protect acute services at South Tipperary General Hospital further reassurance while attending a health care conference in Cashel on Monday.

Minister Reilly told The Nationalist that while no hospital could be given a ‘blanket guarantee’, he had no plans to change any of the services that are currently provided in Clonmel and said the staff there were delivering excellent services.

“I don’t believe there is any requirement to change the services in Clonmel, there may be room for some refinement in that I hope to see a lot of the work being carried out in the big hospitals coming back to the smaller ones,” said the Minister who was attending an international care conference in Cashel hosted by staff at St. Patricks Hospital.

Minister Reilly said he had no plans to change any of the services in Clonmel. He stated that no hospital in the country could be given a guarantee that services would stay the same.

Minister Reilly said he could not see into the future in terms of what clinical programme reviews might bring about or what recommendations could be made by HIQUA.

The Health Minister, who told the conference that the public were pleased with the service they received in hospitals but were displeased about the ability to access the service, said he did not want to make access any more difficult by removing services from locations.

Minister Reilly said he wanted to maintain the services with as little change as possible and to make sure the services were as safe as possible.

“It’s what is behind the emergency department and other acute departments that makes it safe and allow you deliver the service,” said Minister Reilly.

“We are organising the health services to see that patients should be treated in a healthy, safe,timely and efficient way and as near to home as is possible,” said the Health Minister who was attending St. Patricks Hospital’s third international conference on leadership in compassionate care.

Deputy Tom Hayes, who also attended the conference, said he was delighted to hear Minister Reilly speak in such a reassuring manner about the future of the acute hospital services at South Tipperary General Hospital.

“This puts all doubt about the future of acute services at STGH off the agenda and it is very reassuring to hear the Minister state he had no plans to change the level of services being provided by STGH,” he said.