The National Steering Group is to publish its report on a Trauma System for Ireland, with recommendations on the future of Emergency Departments in hospitals such as St Luke's in Kilkenny, 'in the coming weeks'.
That's according to local Fianna Fáil TD Bobby Aylward, who says he has it confirmed from the Minister for Health Simon Harris.
The long-awaited report is to examine emergency services at a number of hospitals across the country, including Kilkenny. It was initially to have been published at the end of last year, but was delayed until 'early' this year — and there has been little word since.
Deputy Aylward said recently questioned Minister Harris on this issue via a Dáil Question, to which Minister Harris replied the report was nearing completion.
"On numerous occasions, I have stressed the need for the major trauma care unit at St Luke's to be retained in its current form," said Deputy Aylward.
"I have also consistently raised the issue with the Minister but unfortunately his responses to date have been non-committal. He has continuously kicked the can down the road on the issue by stating he has to await the publication of a report by the Trauma Steering Group.
"The delays in the publication of this report have been lengthy to say the least. Last summer the Minister indicated that the group's report and recommendations would be furnished by the end of 2016. In December 2016 the Minister revealed that the report would be delayed until early 2017. However it seems now that there is light at the end of the tunnel as the National Steering Group looks set to finally publish its report in the coming weeks and I implore Minister Harris to keep the pressure on to ensure we see no further delays, as is his responsibility.
“People in Kilkenny and right across the south-east are concerned as it has been reported on a number of occasions that this group could recommend the downgrading of services at St Luke’s. Politicians representing the south-east are already fighting hard for 24/7 Cardiac Care at University Hospital Waterford through the establishment of a second full time catherisation lab, not to mention the retention of the Kilkenny Regional Veterinary Lab, which is crucial to agri-business in the region. We cannot accept a situation where our services our being continuously singled out for cut backs while the country's economy continues to strengthen.
“I firmly believe that the availability of major trauma care needs to be retained at St Luke's. We are fighting for improved infrastructure and services in the south-east through investment and expansion. We cannot, nor should we, be forced to go backwards."