Local councillors unanimously criticised the HSE for failing to send a representative to last Monday’s (January 9 ) meeting of the Athlone Municipal District.
Representatives of the HSE had been invited to the Athlone chamber to provide a first-hand update on how the works at St Vincent’s Care Centre are proceeding. However, the council was contacted just a few days before the meeting to be told there was nobody available from the HSE to attend. Instead, councillors were provided with a written report reaffirming that works will be completed by March’s deadline.
Mayor of Athlone, Cllr John Dolan (FG ), expressed his disappointment that the scheduled visit had been cancelled so late in the day. He said he understood things can come up at short notice, but found it difficult to understand how there was nobody from the HSE available to visit in person.
Sinn Féin councillor Paul Hogan echoed Cllr Dolan’s remarks. He said while he would not go so far as to call the no-show “shameful”, he was “disappointed” at the lack of communication between the HSE and the families of patients who have been moved.
Fianna Fáil councillor, Frankie Keena, said he hoped that the work being undertaken is to HIQA standards. He expressed his wish that the staff and patients of St Vincent’s are accommodated “at the earliest opportunity” and urged the HSE to open correspondence with all those impacted.
His party colleague, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, said it was disappointing that the council has to continue to act “as a watchdog for the HSE and how they conduct business”. He added that it was not the councillors who were owed an explanation, but the patients and staff, and echoed calls for the HSE to open communication with them.
It was resolved that a letter will be sent to the HSE in due course.