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Mon, May
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Primary care centres ‘key’ in ‘reformed health service’ – Ring

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DOCTORS ORDERS  Minister Michael Ring, TD, performing the official opening of the new Primary Care Centre in Westport on Monday afternoon. Also pictured are the doctors located at the centre, from left: Dr Steven Edmondson, Dr Rossa Horgan, Dr Siobhán Horgan, Dr Caroline Cowley, and Dr Hugh Ó Faoláin.  Pic: Keith Heneghan

Edwin McGreal

Primary care centres such as the one officially opened in Westport yesterday (Monday) have ‘a key role to play in delivering a reformed health service’.
That’s according to local Minister Michael Ring who was speaking at the official opening of the Westport Primary Care Centre at Tober Hill in the town yesterday afternoon.
“They are the focus of the Government’s efforts to provide health services in the local community for the benefit of the community. It demonstrates that we can deliver better care, closer to people’s homes in their local communities,” said Minister Ring in advance of the opening.
Two local GP practices are based at the centre, together with HSE services such as public health nursing, occupational therapy and physiotherapy for adults, speech and language therapy, along with dental and other paediatric services.
However, Minister Ring did reckon the centre would not have opened were it not for the intervention of himself and HSE Mayo manager Paraic Carolan. Jim Curran, the HSE Head of Estates (the wing of the HSE responsible for their properties) had praised the collaboration between the HSE and Mayo County Council in terms of the council allowing a site of theirs to be used for the centre.
“I just can’t let it go. Jim, you simplified it so much today, collaboration you called it between the local authority and the health board. Well now Paraic Carolan, I want to say to you today, thank you and me or this would never have happened because if we were waiting for the health board and the council to put it together, it would not have happened. We had to rattle the heads together to make sure it did ... to make sure the health board and the council could pull together because there was a lot of tangling over this particular site,” said Minister Ring.
He praised the HSE whose staff he said ‘do a tremendous service’ all around the country.
“It’s 97.9 percent of people that get a great service. We only hear about the negativity but we never hear about the positivity,” he said.
He also praised former Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, for making the commitment to 14 primary care centres in 2012, of which the Westport centre was one. He said the centre cost between €12 million and €14 million.
Minister Ring, who was clearly under the weather himself, joked he was ‘glad to see so many doctors’ around.
“If any of you have the cure for the cold or a chest infection I’d be delighted to take it on the way out the door,” he said.
Tony Canavan, Chief Officer of Community Healthcare West, said the building is ‘a credit’ to all involved in its development and would provide ‘integrated care’ to patients.
“This is particularly important now because modern care requires the input of many disciplines,” he said.
“All of these centres will add significantly to the infrastructure that will support the delivery of healthcare to people in the west. They will continue the process of reducing an unhealthy dependence on acute hospital care and develop a reliance on primary care for most of our health needs. They will continue the process of moving from a focus on illness to a focus on good health,” he added.
Jim Curran said the centre was one of 14 announced in 2012 and was made possible by a public-private partnership.
Dr Hugh Ó Faoláin, one of the general practitioners based at the Primary Care Centre, said it is ‘a privilege’ to work out of such a facility and said ‘it can and will be a centre of excellence in delivering primary care to our communities’.
Thanks for their role in the development were issued to builders Rattigans, and HSE staff Laurence Gaughan, Seamus Tuohy, Laura Greaney and Marie Prendergast.
The Westport Primary Care Centre opened last May. There are two general practices based there, the Reek View Clinic, where Drs Rossa and Siobhán Horgan are based, and Clew Bay Family Practice, where Dr Hugh Ó Faoláin, Dr Caroline Cowley and Dr Steven Edmundson are based.