A local city councillor and former vice chairperson of the HSE West’s regional health forum has challenged Galway’s Government TDs to honour a commitment they gave to seek a meeting with Health Minister Dr James Reilly about the need to keep St Francis’ Nursing Home open.
Cllr Catherine Connolly, who organised a campaign to secure the future of the 33-year-old public nursing home in Upper Newcastle, claims the Save St Francis Home committee are “still waiting” to hear from the deputies.
Some 20,000 people have signed a petition calling on the HSE West and the Minister for Health not to close the facility. The campaign to collect signatures began last July on Shop Street and expanded to outside the city’s churches, shopping centres and housing estates.
The HSE West announced last year it will close the home as a residential centre, operating it instead as a daycare facility.
The decision was taken following an inspection by the HSE regulator HIQA which made several recommendations to enable it to meet new nursing home standards. The HSE said at the time that complying with this request would mean major and costly changes and would reduce the capacity of the unit significantly.
However Cllr Connolly said the refurbishment of the home would cost €200,000, less than one third of the annual rent the health authority pays for a building on Seamus Quirke Road in Westside.
“The latest count shows that just over 20,000 people have signed our petition. Most people have expressed outright anger at the stupidity of the HSE West decision to close such a wonderful public nursing home.
“In addition to the signature campaign a public meeting was held in the Westwood Hotel recently where the five local TDs, Brian Walsh, Sean Kyne, Derek Nolan, Eamon O’Cuiv and Noel Grealish together with Senator Trevor O’Cloherty all agreed to back the campaign. Furthermore the three Government TDs confirmed that they would organise a meeting with the Minister for Health, James Reilly. The Save St Francis Home Committee are still waiting to hear from them.”
Cllr Connolly queried if the Government TDs are going to ignore the 20,000 people in Galway who want to save this highly regarded nursing home.
“The public have clearly said keep the nursing home open. Are the TDs going to go back on their word given at a very public forum?”
She said the petition campaign will continue on Shop Street this Saturday and written contact will be made with Deputies Walsh, Nolan, Kyne and Senator Fidelma Healy Eames in relation to a meeting with the Minister.
She said she will also be raising the issue again at the City Council meeting on Monday.