Hospital end game?

Seamus Duke Surgical and casualty services at Roscommon County Hospital look certain to be downgraded or removed altogether following another dramatic week of meetings and announcements on the issue.   Following a meeting with consultants in Galway last Friday the Chief Executive of the HSE Professor Brendan Drumm issued a statement on the future of the the hospital which, on first reading, is very upbeat. However the plan to remove all in-patient surgery from Roscommon seems to be going ahead as planned and there is also now the likelihood that the casualty unit in Roscommon will be reduced from a seven-day 24-hour service to an 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday service.    This was the message from Professor Drumm to local public representatives whom he met in Galway on Thursday and he also hinted at this new proposal on local radio when interviewed last week.   Professor Drumm also wrote to staff at Roscommon County Hospital at the end of last week informing them about the future for Roscommon County Hospital. The official line is that many extra procedures will be carried out at the hospital in the future and that the hospital would be secure into the future. However local public representatives, staff at the hospital and the Hospital Action Committee say that when and if the HSE implements its plans, it will sound the deathknell for the hospital. In the words of one public representative it would become ‘a glorified clinic, treating only lumps and bumps’.   Local junior minister and Fianna Fail TD Michael Finneran has issued a statement to the effect that if the HSE plan was implemented, Roscommon County Hospital would ‘not be able to function as an acute general hospital.’ He has requested an urgent meeting with health minister Mary Harney to discuss the situation.   Fine Gael Deputy Denis Naughten says that the HSE are moving even faster with its rationalisation plan than was envisaged and he calls the situation ‘a crisis’. He claims that Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe will be next for rationalisation and he has called for the HSE to reconsider their plans ‘even at this 11th hour’.