Republic of Ireland soccer star John O’ Shea has expressed his support for Kilkenny’s St Luke’s Hospital retaining its union with Waterford Regional Hospital as part of the South-East network.
An expert group is to deliver a report to the Government in the coming days, which is expected to recommend severing many of the links between acute hospitals in the South-East. In November of last year, the medical board of St Luke’s Hospital voted in favour of linking with a Dublin hospital, rather than Waterford and Cork.
But in a new online video, Sunderland defender O’ Shea says the South-East Hospital network should be retained, and has urged people to sign a petition where respondents confirm a ‘no’ vote for Government party candidates in the next election if the policy is pursued. The video is posted on the website www.sehaa.ie.
O’ Shea’s family live in Ferrybank, which borders Waterford and Kilkenny. He says they are an example of people who will be severely affected by a proposed hospital network realignment that would force patients to seek specialist services in Dublin or Cork centres, which are presently available at Waterford Regional Hospital.
“If our network of hospitals is disbanded it will affect the half a million-strong population of Waterford, Kilkenny, Wexford, Tipperary, and Carlow,” says O’ Shea in his video.
The South East Hospital Action Alliance (SEHAA) says that the reconfigurations recommended by the expert group will result in a loss of budgets and specialist services at the Regional Hospital in Waterford and will require patients travel to Dublin and Cork for specialist healthcare access.
This would see patients from south Kilkenny and Waterford face journeys up to 100 miles for medical services. The SEHAA also says it will result in a loss of jobs to the region.
While the medical board at St Luke’s voted 15-2 (with two abstentions) in favour of linking with Dublin, SEHAA have said it is no longer as clear-cut as that.
“The medical board in St Luke’s General Hospital Kilkenny had stated their preference to align with a Dublin Hospital believed to be St James, but recently considerable disquiet among a number of the consultants based at St Luke’s at this proposal have emerged,” said a statement from the group.
Minister for Health Dr James Reilly is expected to bring the report before the Dail before the end of the month.