A new Step Down Ward is set to open this week in Louth County Hospital, which will provide 18 much needed beds.
Jobs agency Service Source have advertised position on their website, which are believed to relate to six months contract at the hospital.
Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick says that the move is great news for the town.
“This will see the opening of atleast 18 beds for at least 12 months. It means that the people of Dundalk will be getting care on their doorstep and it will also mean that many local families will not have to travel up and down to Drogheda.
“I am meeting with Ian Carter, the new Chairman of the Louth Meath Hospital Group next week and I will be impressing upon him the need to keep as many services as possible in Louth County Hospital. Minister Reilly has said the Louth Hospital is one of the best small hospitals in the country and one of the best Minor Injuries Units.
“The nurses are being taken as agency nurses because that is the fastest way to get them hired. If you went the root of hiring through the HSE it could take as long as 12 months and by time the money could be gone.
“For those who are going to be critical, I’d say this is better to have a ward for 6 to 12 months or none whatsoever? Also this will create employment in Dundalk as most these agency nurses will be recruited locally.”
Speaking to the Dundalk Democrat Cllr Tomas Sharkey said that he believes the hospital is being used as an experiment in “privatisation” of the public health service.
“These jobs are just six months contracts, which are being filled by private agency staff.
“While in the short term this is good news for patients, it is in effect bringing the number of wards in the hospital back up to two. There were three wards here before the Minister Reilly’s time in office.
“We were also in this position 12 months ago, when a ward was opened only to close in a matter of weeks.
“Unfortunately my fear is that this ward will just be opening for the duration of work being carried in Drogheda, after HIQA requested as much.
“My hope would be that the government look at opening this ward on a long term basis, and not just as a six month overspill while work is being carried out in Drogheda.”