Commenting on the 2012 HSE National Service Plan which was announced yesterday (Monday) Mayo County Cllr Michael Kilcoyne said it seems to the Government and the HSE are being driven by the ‘balancing of the books, and the needs and well-being of patients is being ignored’.
The main talking points of the HSE’s annual budget was the announcement that 555 nursing home beds will close nationally this year with fears mounting over the future of a number of Mayo’s District Hospitals and nursing homes.
The HSE reduction in 2012 of €750 million in cost saving measures will have a severe impact on frontline services according to Cllr Kilcoyne. This funding will be partially saved as a result of the departure of about 3,200 workers who are expected to leave the health service before the end of next month, after a continual decline in staffing levels in recent years.
Last August the HSE announced that 59 beds at six health care centres in Mayo, including Belmullet, Swinford, Sacred Heart Hospital, Castlebar, MacBride Community Nursing Unit, Westport, St Augustine’s Home, Ballina, and Dalton centre in Claremorris were to close.
In early December it was announced that 12 of the 62 beds at St Joseph’s District Hospital, Ballina, will close at the hospital by the end of January, and four weeks ago it was confirmed that respite facilities for mental health patients in Ballina and Castlebar will also be adversely affected.
Fears for beds such at MacBride Community Nursing Unit, Westport; The Sacred Heart Hospital, Castlebar; St Fionnan’s CNU, Achill; St Augustine’s Community Nursing Unit, Ballina, and D’Alton Community Nursing Unit will now increase significantly as a result of the HSE annual budget.
Cllr Kilcoyne said, “All of those places have been impacted severely already and staffing levels are already at an all time low as a result of the Government’s recruitment embargo. This is going to have a major impact on the sick and the elderly.
He added, “They are hitting the most vulnerable which seems to be a hallmark of this Government to a large extent, although there is no talk of hitting the bondholders. It’s the same as the last crowd, maybe even a little worse. You cannot take that money out of a service and expect it to operate properly.”