Waterford City Council has no faith in the HSE’s commitment to build a 50-bed replacement unit for St Brigid’s ward within St Patrick’s Hospital, which it intends closing with its 19 beds.

The executive claims the closure is planned for health and safety reasons but the Council members don’t believe that, they made clear at their monthly meeting on Monday night. It is simply a cost saving measure, they are convinced, just like the pending loss of other beds in St Otterans and Waterford Regional.

“Build the new unit first and then close St Brigid’s”, they challenged, at the same time issuing a reminder that there’s no evidence whatever of plans to proceed with the new unit.

Cllr Pat Hayes called on Oireachtas members from the region to get their act together and save the ward, while Cllr Hilary Quinlan, who is chairman of HSE South Forum, voiced anger over CEO Professor Drumm’s reference on radio to the hospital as “a workhouse”.

“I was also surprised because not so long ago he was full of praise for the facility”, he said. He added that he was so disgusted by the insult that he had written to him demanding an apology.

The meeting demanded of the HSE that it reversed its decision relating to St Brigid’s until such time as a new replacement unit was built.