People urged to join hands to save Portiuncula Hospital

A local action committee is urging businesses, clubs, organisations and individuals to take part in a “Hands Around Our Hospital” protest aimed at highlighting concerns over future services at Portiuncula Hospital.

The event takes places at the 197-bed Ballinasloe facility on Tuesday at 1.30pm amid growing fears that the county hospital may suffer as the health cuts continue to bite.

Replying to a question from Fine Gael deputy Paul Connaughton at an Oireachtas meeting recently, Health Minister Mary Harney said Portiuncula’s budget for this year is €43.2m. However, its May accounts indicated it has overrun this by €3.9m. It is estimated that by the end of the year this figure will be €6.6m.

She outlined the hospital’s break-even plan includes a range of cost-savings measures including reduced overtime, reductions in travel, and greater efficiencies in non-pay spending.

“It also involves reconfiguration of wards from seven day beds to five day wards and changing 18 inpatient beds to daycare beds,” she outlined. “In addition, one theatre will close for six weeks during the summer period. Savings of €3.5m have been identified but discussions are ongoing to identify the remainder. The hospital will continue to implement all possible measures to achieve break-even. There are no plans to reduce emergency department services from the current levels.”

Padraig Mulligan, the chairperson of the Portiuncula Hospital Action Committee, believes the future of the hospital is still under threat. ”In light of the recent events with the Health Service Executive, concerns remain regarding future services at Portiuncula Hospital. The threat to the hospital remains a major concern and is one of the most serious threats to undermining services at Portiuncula.

“We are asking all clubs, organisations, businesses and individuals to join us on Tuesday when we will join hands around our hospital. Please support this urgent appeal. It could be you or a member of your family, a colleague, a team member who needs the hospital next. Come to the protest dressed in your club colours, your work/business uniform, bring county flags with you and bring a banner that identifies your organisation, business or club. To save our hospital we need people’s support.”

Portiuncula Hospital serves the needs of adults and children in the catchment areas of east Galway, Co Westmeath, north Tipperary, Roscommon and Co Offaly. It has a total of 197 beds -173 inpatient and 24 daycare beds. It provides a comprehensive range of services including acute medical and surgical care, obstetrics and emergency care. The hospital will treat 10,694 inpatients, 7,338 day cases and 42,497 outpatients this year. Its emergency department operates on a 24 hour basis and will cater for 20,313 cases in 2010.


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