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Thurles Hospital Group Address Misconceptions

Thurles Hospital Action Group protest on the morning of An Taoiseach Enda Kenny's visit to Thurles Tipperary

In a press release received by the Thurles Information Website this morning, the Community Hospital of The Assumption Action Group have requested their right to address what they see as the many misconceptions, now in the public arena, regarding the number of bed units which are to be reopened at the stated hospital.

Hospital Action Group’s Press Release

The loss of 22 beds in the Community Hospital of The Assumption last September was a devastating blow to our community and was totally out of proportion with the treatment meted out to other community hospitals here in the Western H.S.E. area.  The Community Hospital of the Assumption Action Group were formed following this, with the intention of addressing this anomaly. A meeting was held with the Minister for Health on 9th Nov. 2011, in the presence of officials from his department and our elected T.D.’s for North Tipperary.

At this meeting we were informed that the Minister was working off the 2011 budget, brought in by the previous government and that when the 2012 budget came into effect, with some reconfiguration, the 22 beds would be restored by 31st January 2012. In the unlikely event that this did not come about, he would meet the delegation again.

Having made no progress, nor having had any meaningful correspondence with his department, a second meeting was arranged for 18th April 2012. This meeting was held with the minister, officials from his department, and officials from the H.S.E. West, included the 3 North Tipperary T.D.’s.

Mr O’Reilly stated that he had no recollection of making any commitment as regards the reopening of the beds. Our government T.D.’s who had made such public statements about their influence in securing the initial commitment to have the beds restored, offered absolutely no support to the delegation at this critical time.

However at this 2nd meeting, the Minister instructed the H.S.E. officials to engage with the action committee, hospital management and staff in a process to resolve the situation. A meeting with these groups was organised for 21st May.

When the hospital first opened there were 72 beds in total, with 11 rehabilitation beds, 2 nursing rehabs, 2 palliative care beds, 6 respite beds and 51 long term care beds. There are currently 45 beds available for use in the hospital. These include 11 rehabilitation beds, 2 palliative care beds, and 4 respite care beds, leaving just 28 beds available for long term care. The current proposals for the reopening of any beds are totally dependent on the outcome of ongoing negotiations with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and S.I.P.T.U.

A commitment given at the meeting on 21st May, between the hospital action group, the H.S.E., local management and our three T.D.’s, was to add 8-12 beds to the current allocation in the North Tipperary area, subject to ongoing discussions between management and staff representatives. We agreed at this meeting that we would make no statement to the media due to the sensitivity of the negotiations in progress. We appealed to the T.D.’s to do likewise.

However, within an hour of our meeting, members of the action committee were contacted by the media with regard to a press release received from the H.S.E. This press release stated that beds would be reopened as follows:-

  • Potentially seven beds for St. Conlon’s, Nenagh.
  • Five (possibly increasing to 7) for Dean Maxwell, Roscrea.
  • Five for the Community Hospital of the Assumption, Thurles.

This would add up to between 17-19 beds in total, which was not our understanding of the situation. The Community Hospital of the Assumption Action Group is aware that this falls far short of its anticipated final outcome, i.e. the reinstatement of 22 beds to the Thurles hospital.

As an action group we intend to continue to work towards our initial goal, particularly in view of the increase in the population of older people, 14.4% in over 65’s and 22% in the over 85’s, as outlined by the Central Statistics Office preliminary report (2012).
However, we welcome the current initiative, in so far as it is a step forward. We are also aware that this is a work in progress, the outcome of which relies on the commitment of local management, the hospital staff, and the relevant H.S.E. officials, all of whom we wish to thank for their efforts on behalf of our community and our hospital.

We wish to express our disappointment at the attitude of our elected representatives in government, as they reflect commitment, more to their own local areas, rather than to services for older people across the whole of North Tipperary. We have insisted on numerous occasions that this is a health-care rather than a political issue; however political point scoring seems to hold more significance than the well being of our ageing population.

Finally the action group wish to state their delight with the opportunity to exchange pleasantries with An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny on Thursday morning last on the occasion of his visit to the constituency, and his acknowledgement via official channels of the courtesy extended to him.

We look forward to further engagement with him when he has had an opportunity to review our concerns. The reaction of An Taoiseach is viewed in huge contrast against the response of our local government T.D.’s, and indeed that of T.D’s in other constituencies, whose local
hospitals have been placed in similar situations.

It seems to have escaped TD’s attentions that they were elected to represent the interests of the constituency as a whole and not just their own private backyard.”

Signed: Thurles Hospital of The Assumption Action Committee.

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