As Minister Mary Harney immediately seeks 5,000 voluntary redundancies by ‘non-essential’ HSE staff, plans to centralise acute services in the southeast at Waterford Regional Hospital are being stymied – and possibly jeopardised – by vested medical and political interests.

That’s the claim made locally following the sudden resignation of the head of an expert HSE committee set up early last year to produce proposals on reforming the hospital system in the southeast.

Effectively tasked to streamline services between South Tipperary and Wexford General Hospitals, St Lukes in Kilkenny and Ardkeen, the Reconfiguration Steering Group has been dogged by opposition and division. Initial recommendations meant to be delivered in April are still in abeyance amid claim and counter-claim across ‘competing’ constituencies.

Clonmel-based Minister of State Martin Mansergh, who wants his local hospital left ‘as is’, recently added his voice to the furore, conceding: “There are no resources for a major new regional hospital” and “the existing one in Waterford is fully stretched, to put it mildly.”

This is despite Dept of Health evidence pointing to the fact that “Patients get the best health outcomes when complex care is delivered in hospitals with high volumes of patients” and the appropriate staff and equipment.

See The Munster Express newspaper for full story or subscribe to our PDF version.