Mayo General Hospital will not be downgraded and in fact could benefit from additional services due to its inclusion in the new West and North West Hospital Group.
The establishment of the six hospital groups which amalgamates public hospitals across the country into regional clusters, is a transition to independent hospital trusts, a meeting of the HSE West regional forum heard this week.
While Mr Bill Maher, CEO of the Galway and Roscommon Hospital Group admitted on Tuesday that there were geographical challenges, he assured the public that all local hospitals would be safe in the hands of the group.
“If the group gets results and are getting results, we will demand more autonomy to deliver better services in local hospitals,” Mr Maher told the meeting.
One member of the forum was concerned that the board meetings of the new West and North West Hospital Group, which comprises seven hospitals from Donegal down to Galway, would not be open to the public. However chief executive of the Mid Western Hospital Group, Ms Ann Doherty, assured members that a number of board meetings would be held in public each year, with the first one in this area scheduled for June 18. According to Mr John Hennessy, HSE regional director, public accountability is critical and will continue to be provided by the regional west forum.
Mayo Fine Gael councillor Seamus Weir said Galway to Letterkenny was a long way and he feared the hospitals in between would not just be “squeezed” but “pulled apart”.
Galway councillor Padraig Conneely, the chairperson of the HSE West’s regional health forum, feared there would be a return to the “bad old days of the HSE” with a “very huge geographical spread and fragmented accountability”. Sligo and Donegal were a long way away from a management perspective, he felt. He said Mr Maher was doing a “good job” but wondered if he would be able to control such a large group.
Mr Maher reiterated to Cllr Weir that there was no question of Mayo General being downgraded.