‘People power’ will fight back on health cuts – Feighan

Government plans to diminish or curtail health services in the north west region will be met with still opposition from ‘people power’, according to Deputy Frank Feighan. ‘It is a damning indictment of the Government’s health policy that people must resort to taking to the streets to highlight their opposition to cutbacks in hospital services in Sligo, Castlebar and Roscommon. In retrospect, when one looks at the make-up of the cabinet table, one shouldn’t be too surprised at the contempt towards health services in the West, when that region is so poorly represented in Government. ‘Along with thousands others, I stood in solidarity with the people who marched to Sligo General Hospital last Thursday evening. I will also stand with the people who will protest in Roscommon town in just over a week and continue to do so, until the Government seriously re-think their health policy. ‘If the Government fail to listen to the concerns of people manifest in these protests, it is then time for them to be removed from office. After all, a Government that fails to listen to the people who elect it to govern does not deserve to govern. ‘To paraphrase the quotation of another political leader in a different context, proposals to create a joint department of surgery and anaesthetics between Roscommon and Portiuncula Hospitals ‘haven’t gone away you know’. ‘It’s clear the Health Services Executive, taking their direction from Minister Harney’s Department, are looking for the moment of ‘least political impact’ to implement these proposals. However, on the basis of the public opposition and hostility, the Government will find that moment of opportunity is not a reality. ‘Furthermore, is the Government suggesting the concerns of Consultants working at Roscommon County Hospital are mere ‘scaremongering’? Yet the consultants claim they, and I quote, ‘are being pushed in the direction of closing impatient surgery beds as well as the loss of an all-hours consultant surgeon and consultant anaesthetist. ‘If these proposed cutbacks are implemented, it is no exaggeration to suggest that lives will be lost. Furthermore, services, already operating to capacity at Portiuncula Hospital, will be unable to cope.’