MINISTER for Health Dr James Reilly has been handed a list of requests relating to the restoration of services at the Louth County Hospital by his Fine Gael colleague Peter Fitzpatrick and will visit the hospital in the coming weeks.
The move comes just days after the Save Our Hospital Services group called on Minister Reilly to meet them in a bid to overturn cutbacks at the hospital, which were implemented during the tenure of the last Fianna Fáil-led government.
Speaking on Monday, Deputy Fitzpatrick said he had visited both the Louth County Hospital in Dundalk and St John of God’s Hospital in Drumcar before the election with Minister Reilly and said he had received a commitment from him that neither hospital would be closed.
Louth GAA boss Fitzpatrick has always been a strong backer of the hospital, most notably in the past nine years since his eldest daughter Dara May was “saved” by staff at the Louth County after initially having received the Last Rites after contracting meningitis.
He has now backed that up by canvassing Minister Reilly on the matter following his election and he also insists that he has accepted an invite from the Save Our Hospital Services group to join their committee, which up until now had been largely dominated by Sinn Féin supporters and independents.
Deputy Fitzpatrick said: “Before the election I took James Reilly on a visit to the hospital and we met the likes of Una McArdle and the administrators there who showed us around.
“He was very, very impressed with the setup so the week after the election I went to him again and he gave me a commitment that the hospital would not be closed.
“After that I was asked to join the Save Our Hospital Services committee and I’ve agreed. I’m just waiting on them to come back to me but I’ve continued to talk to James Reilly about the hospital weekly.
“He has told me that in the next few weeks he will come here and have a chat to me about it and he will visit the hospital again.”
Deputy Fitzpatrick said that the Minister was made well aware of what the people of this region wanted from the hospital.
“When he walked around the hospital he couldn’t believe the setup and how clean it was. He made no promises about restoring A&E but he did say he would look at what he could do.
“I was given a list by Una McArdle of what the staff would like to see happen and I’ve given it to him personally.
“I also took him to St John of God’s in Drumcar. The staff there are doing a fantastic job but the grants were cut before the election and we’d like to see some of them restored. We will go back there as well,” said Fitzpatrick.
The news of a future visit from Minister Reilly comes within days of the Save Our Hospital Services group setting up an A&E watch number - 087 3570512 – where they are appealing for members of the public to let them know about the poor conditions in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.