A COMMITMENT on the continuation of existing services at St Luke’s Hospital has been given by Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan. It comes over a week before he performs the official sod-turning ceremony for a w13 million capital project at the hospital on November 26.
The project includes the development of a new Accident and Emergency department, new Medical Assessment Unit and Day Services Unit named after the late Susie Long. He said that all the key milestones for full implementation of the entire project were on schedule.
Minister Hogan pledged, before the last election, that St Luke’s Hospital would be retained under a Fine Gael led Government and said that he would work tirelessly to keep St Luke’s hospital at the forefront of medicine in the South East.
“We have a great hospital and it is my job to ensure that it stays that way.” Referring to Waterford Regional Hospital and a protest rally held in Waterford on Saturday that was attended by fellow Fine Gael TD for Kilkenny, John Paul Phelan, he said he will work with Waterford Regional Hospital to see how best to continue to provide excellent medical cover for the people of Carlow and Kilkenny.“Despite all the arguments to the contrary, I always firmly believed that Kilkenny, with its population and central location, just could not be left without a major hospital”, said Minister Hogan.“I am now delighted that St Luke’s will receive a w13 million upgrade. This is also a tribute to the excellent work and initiatives being carried out by the hospital’s excellent medical team,” he added.
Deputy John Paul Phelan said he will be standing shoulder to shoulder with the community where he was born and where he lives and their efforts to maintain the status of Waterford Regional Hospital. “I won’t be supporting any move to change the acute status of Waterford Regional Hospital. I will not condone any moves that will negatively impact on the health services available to and necessary for the people of the south east at Waterford Regional Hospital.
“I have met with the Health Minister on a number of occasions in the past number of weeks and I have made my views and those of the community here known to him. The acute status of Waterford Regional Hospital must be maintained and I will not countenance any cuts to critical cancer, orthopaedic and other critical services at WRH,” Deputy Phelan said.
Dr Pat Crowley, a Fine Gael member of Kilkenny County Council, said he expected that certain services at both the Waterford and Kilkenny hospitals could even be upgraded.
Following a meeting of Fine Gael and Labour representatives and consultants from around the South East on Monday night in Kilkenny’s Club House Hotel, he said: “If they play their cards right in Waterford, the services will not be downgraded, the services will be upgraded. And it’s the same in Kilkenny.”
With St Luke’s being the largest hospital in the specified area, “we are going to have to take in extra patients,” he said.
A Government-commissioned report on recommendations for reorganising Ireland’s hospitals is expected to be presented to Health Minister James Reilly today (Wednesday), Dr Crowley said, and the actions to be taken from that report are due to be decided before January.
He said Minister Reilly would be visiting Waterford on Friday and would assure people there that Waterford Regional would not be downgraded.