31 October 2002 Edition

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Statewide implications of Monaghan General Hospital dispute

Ó Caoláin slams "blueprint for cutting of hospital services"

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has slammed what he calls a "blueprint for the cutting of hospital services" outlined by a senior planner in the North Eastern Health Board in last week's Irish Medical Times.

In his article, Finbar Lennon, general surgeon and medical advisor on acute services to the NEHB management, described as "non-negotiable" plans to cease all acute hospital services at Monaghan General Hospital, which will handle elective, minor and day surgical cases only. Lennon wrote that the outcome of the dispute over Monaghan General Hospital "will have a very significant impact across services in the country".

"Finbar Lennon has let the cat out of the bag," said Ó Caoláin. "He has set out a blueprint for the cutting of hospital services at Monaghan General and its reduction to the status of a glorified local health centre - a blueprint that he wants to see followed throughout this state.

"Mr Lennon states baldly that the elected representatives on the Health Board have no choice in the matter. He welcomes the fact that the professional colleges and regulatory authorities are calling the shots and applying the pressure to cut services at Monaghan General Hospital. He also criticises "local political interests" and says their efforts to resist the proposed changes will not work.

"I totally reject this approach. If we were to follow his logic there would be no democratic input into the strategic management of our health services at either Health Board or government level. We may as well abolish the Health Boards and the post of Minister for Health and Children and hand the entire system over to the professional bodies.

"Elected representatives at local and national level are entrusted by the people with the task of ensuring that public services are provided. The people of County Monaghan could not have made clearer their need to restore and further develop services at their General Hospital. Mr Lennon's blueprint poses a question for the Minister for Health and Children and the Taoiseach. Are they prepared to abdicate all responsibility for what is happening to our hospital and use the destruction of services at Monaghan as a template for the entire state?"

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