The staff at the Hospital of the Assumption in Thurles are “frustrated” over the way the issue of extra beds at the community care facility is being handled, according to Mayor Micheal Lowry.
He told this Monday’s North Tipperary County Council meeting that five extra beds were announced for the hospital last week “with a lot of fanfare”, but the reality was the beds were there because of the hard work and rescheduling of rosters and holiday arrangements that the staff themselves had put in place.
“I, along with Cllr Seamus Hanafin and Cllr Jim Ryan, were at a meeting of the Hospital Action Group and told them we would raise this today. We were told at a meeting with the HSE that eight or 12 beds would be returning to North Tipperary, but the HSE would not commit to that until they had dealt with the unions,” he said.
However, he said that within 30 minutes of being told that, a statement had been issued putting a figure on the number of beds. He stated that it was another few hours after that statement had been issued that the HSE had issued its own statement.
“This has led the action committee to believe that a decision was made before the meeting,” he declared.
Cllr Lowry reminded the meeting that the bed numbers proposed was still a long way off the 51 full-time beds and six respite beds that had been in the hospital.
“We should be investing and opening up these services. The action group is going to issue a statement to correct what is in the public domain,” he said. “I am not happy how the scenario has played out. The promises and commitment made are being denied to them.”
The Mayor was supported by Cllr Jim Ryan and Cllr Seamus Hanafin, with Cllr Ryan saying the action committee had done everything that had been asked of them, but in return they were given “false promises and hopes” by the Minister and the Government TDs in North Tipperary.
“Reinstatement has not happened and the people of Thurles won’t forget. Thurles is demanding action and demanding the truth,” he said.
And he further stated that he would “not accept the false promises being made by the HSE” in relation to community care.
Meanwhile, Cllr Hanafin said there was “huge frustration” in Thurles at the moment, with “promises made and made again and none acted on”.
Labour’s Mayor of Thurles Cllr John Kennedy said he was “disappointed a solution has not been found to bring these beds back”.
However, he understood that a meeting was taking place this week between the HSE and the union.
Cllr John Carroll, who sits on the HSE West Forum, accused the health authority of having a continuous programme to close public beds in favour of private beds. “I ask that be rolled back,” he said.
And Cllr Michael Smith said the silence from the FG councillors was “deafening”.
“We trusted the Minister and there was no substance at the end of it,” said the FF councillor.
Meanwhile, Cllr John Hogan stated that the Hospital of the Assumption was a “state-of-the-art hospital but its doors were practically closed. Promises are not being honoured.”
He claimed that “50 years ago the hospital catered for larger numbers, but now there is a queue a mile long to get into it”.
Cllr John “Rocky” McGrath said Junior Minister Kelly should be “doing twice as much and insist on getting Thurles back to where it should be”.
A later attempt by Cllr Pauline Coonan to raise the issue under a different item on the agenda dealing with a jobs fair at the Civic Offices this Wednesday was cut short by Mayor Lowry, who told her: “Don’t try and a come back now to rectify the situation. You had your chance.”
Cllr Coonan had said that job creation and an increased tax take were the only ways of bringing back services.
“If we collect more taxes we would restore services lost to the country because of reckless spending,” she stated.