Proposal to cut 25 beds

STAFF at Louth County Hospital are “livid” about a new round of cost-cutting proposals, according to The Save Our Hospital Services Committee Chairman Tomás Sharkey.

STAFF at Louth County Hospital are “livid” about a new round of cost-cutting proposals, according to The Save Our Hospital Services Committee Chairman Tomás Sharkey.

The proposals being examined by the Health Service Executive (HSE) include closing 25 beds at the 43-bed Dundalk hospital.

“Unfortunately for the people of Co Louth, our hospital services are under attack. The staff are livid that someone in the HSE is cooking up plans to curtail more services,” said Cllr Sharkey.

According to a report in The Irish Times, a confidential draft plan, drawn up following a meeting on June 28, also includes reducing the opening hours of the Minor Injuries Unit (MIU).

Currently the MIU at Louth County Hospital is open from 9am to 8pm seven days a week. The draft document proposes this could be restricted to 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday “with no weekend service”.

In addition, management of the Louth-Meath hospital group are to consider charging hospital employees for parking for the first time.

If implemented, the revenue-raising measure would affect 288 full-time staff in Dundalk and more than 1,400 in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda.

However, the document has stepped back from an earlier proposal to close Louth County Hospital following a statement by Minister for Health James Reilly that no hospital would be closed.

The proposals in the draft document have not been approved by the HSE and will “require either implementation or further investigation on how they would be delivered and the impact associated with same”.

A statement issued by the HSE about the document said: “The document referred to is clearly labelled as draft and confidential and should be treated as such. The proposals put forward in this draft document have not been approved by the HSE and require further consideration...”