Fears that maternity services at South Tipperary General Hospital may close as a result of the break-up of hospital services in the south-east have eased.
The Higgins Report is due to come before the Cabinet next Tuesday and it is understood that the maternity services in Clonmel, which were the maternity services most under threat in the south-east with one unit expected to close, will remain open.
The Higgins Report, which if approved by the government on Tuesday next, will see South Tipperary General and Waterford Regional both linked with Cork University Hospital, while hospitals in Kilkenny and Wexford will be linked to Dublin hospitals.
With the break up of the traditional south-east hospital structure, the future of the maternity services in Clonmel were under severe pressure with Minister James Reilly informing backbenchers in February that one maternity unit in the south east would have to close.
Now it appears that no maternity unit in the south east will close as part of the realignment of the hospital structure.
Fine Gael TD Tom Hayes said he had received confirmation from both Minister Reilly and the Department Secretary General that the maternity services in Clonmel would remain open along with all other acute services at South Tipperary General which would crucially hold onto its Level 3 hospital status.
“We are going to lose nothing. It is my understanding that Clonmel will hold onto the maternity services for as long as this government is in power. What happens after that with future Health Ministers I can’t say. I have been told that maternity services will continue in Clonmel, that the acute hospital services will stay the same and that most importantly we hold onto our Level 3 status as a hospital,” said Deputy Hayes.
He added that the hospital would see some changes as a result of the Higgins Report once it was approved by the cabinet.
There would be changes implemented that would effect management located in Clonmel with significant changes made to streamline management to take account of the new relationship that both Clonmel and Waterford would have with Cork University Hospital.
“There will be an amalgamation of management, savings have to be made on the administration side and there will be changes brought about in Clonmel and Waterford to reflect that. Both Clonmel and Waterford are being linked with UCC and it is important that we are linked with a training hospital” he said
“There would have been enormous damage done if Clonmel were to lose maternity services and it would have had a knock-on effect on all the other acute services.For as long as this government is in power maternity in Clonmel is safe and will remain open” he added