News that up to 59 public nursing home beds are to be closed in Mayo has been met with “gross concern” and “dismay” by Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary.
The bed closures, spread across six facilities in Mayo, including Belmullet and Swinford district hospitals, The Sacred Heart Hospital Castlebar, St Augustine’s Ballina, The McBride Nursing Home Westport, and The Dalton Facility Claremorris, are being blamed on the Government’s moratorium on recruitment of frontline staff.
“It is grossly unfair, unjust, and unacceptable that the HSE should proceed with these bed closures in these facilities which are in huge demand across County Mayo,” said Deputy Calleary.
“Fifty nine beds are to be closed out of a total of 409 in the county and this is unacceptable. Older people should not, under any circumstance, have to bear the brunt of HSE cutbacks, and in fact the HSE are guilty of not promoting these fantastic community facilities adequately enough,” said Dep Calleary.
“It is of paramount importance that the care of older people be protected and nurtured and I am calling upon the Minister for Health and the HSE to ensure that these community facilities are maintained and developed,” he added.
Nineteen of those bed closures are expected in Belmullet District Hospital, which is devastating news for the people of Erris and beyond according to Sinn Féin councillor Rose Conway-Walsh.
Cllr Conway-Walsh, who has been involved in a fight for the past two years to keep the beds open in Belmullet, said the campaign will continue.
“Not having a fully functional district hospital here in Erris will mean that people will not be able to avail of respite care or be able to convalesce in their own community. This will automatically put pressure on hospital beds in Mayo General and Galway hospitals. The cost to the HSE will be much greater that any savings from the moratorium on staff recruitment. The economic and social cost of this decision is far reaching and destructive,” said Conway-Walsh.
She has now called on the Government TDs, who have supported the campaign, to keep their promises. “In particular I am calling on Minister Michael Ring to make a clear statement on his position around the proposed closure of these beds.
Minister Ring responded to this by saying that he has been given a guarantee by the health board that all the beds in Belmullet will be in use again in future, but it is necessary to close these beds at the moment, as between now and September five members of staff are going on maternity leave. Due to the embargo on recruitment these positions cannot be filled, and therefore beds have to be closed until the full complement of staff returns back to work.