Tuesday, 11 June 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I wish to raise the issue of the district hospital network, specifically with regard to Belmullet hospital. On Friday, 31 May the HSE announced that all temporary staff would not have their contracts renewed and that all agency staff would be let go with immediate effect. This came as a bolt from the blue for the staff, the community and the GPs, including myself. If staff numbers are diminished it would lead to a direct degradation of the hospital. It has been fiercely opposed by the community and I commend Senator Conway-Walsh for facilitating a public meeting last night, at which there was a massive turnout. I have spoken on many occasions in this House, on the Order of Business or in Commencement debates with the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, about the district hospital network. These hospitals play a vital role in preventing admissions to, and facilitating discharges from, acute hospitals and this is especially important in the case of the hospital to which I refer, which is over 50 miles away from Castlebar.
The district hospital network should not be seen as a relic of a bygone era as, with appropriate investment, its hospitals can facilitate respite care. GPs and public health nurses can admit patients to these hospitals and some of them even have palliative care beds. They get people off trolleys in acute hospitals because patients can be referred back to the district hospital. They are a vital cog in the delivery of a modern health system and I would be grateful if the Leader would arrange for the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Jim Daly, to come into the House in the next few weeks to discuss the national district hospital network.
I am delighted with the announcement about Spinraza. I am thinking of Grace O'Malley, the nine year old girl from outside Ballinrobe who came up here with her parents earlier on in the year, and it is a fantastic announcement.