Many staff members at Waterford Regional Hospital now fear the hospital will soon be unable to provide an acceptable level of medical and surgical treatment to the 500,000 people it serves across the South East region.

Cuts amounting to savings of €7m have already been announced for WRH this year but the overall plan is to implement savings of €14m for the 12-month period with details of the further cuts yet to be revealed.

Staff point out that, by the end of next month (February), there will be a shortfall of approximately 60 nurses working in WRH and, without the support framework provided by an adequate number of nurses, the hospital structure will crumble.

While the nursing situation is critical, there are also problems with the shortfall in physiotherapists, occupational therapists, radiographers and speech therapists.

WRH is facing huge cutbacks that will see three of its eight operating theatres closed which will result in a 30 per cent drop in access for all surgeons, including orthopedics.

Reductions of 5 per cent in in-patients and 10 per cent in day-case admissions will result in 2000 day cases being cancelled. There will be a 20 per cent reduction in all new outpatients seeking treatment for all subspecialties.

For the public, it will mean longer waiting lists, longer hospital stay and delays in patient treatment.

Car parking charges will also increase to €4 for the first three-hours and €2 for each subsequent hour.