FEARS have been raised once again for the future of St Johnâ€™s Hospital, after Fianna FÃ¡il TD Willie Oâ€™Dea admitted he is â€œseriously worriedâ€ about its services.
These comments come despite the chief executive of the hospital, Fearghal Grimes, assuring the Limerick Leader last week that there would be no further cutbacks.
Speaking on the issue, Deputy Oâ€™ Dea explained the importance of the hospital to the city.
â€œIâ€™d have fears for St. Johnâ€™s. The people of the inner city are tremendously emotionally attached to St. Johnâ€™s.
â€œSt. Johnâ€™s saved my motherâ€™s life once upon a time. I would be very, very attached to St. Johnâ€™s and would be very unhappy with the idea of St. Johnâ€™s being downgraded.â€
The Limerick TD objected to the suggestion of downgrading of the hospital when Fianna FÃ¡il were in government last year and remains hopeful that its current services will remain intact.
â€œThe question of St. Johnâ€™s being downgraded arose several times during the course of the last administration and I always warned the Minister for Health that as far as I was concerned it was a no go area. I hope that my colleagues and the government decide now, to do similarly with their Minister for Health.â€
According to Deputy Oâ€™ Dea, there is no reason to have immediate concern for the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Dooradoyle. Instead, he stressed his worries for St Johnâ€™s.
â€œThere doesnâ€™t seem to be, from what I can gather, any immediate trouble for the Regional, but I am worried about St. Johnâ€™s, seriously worried about St. Johnâ€™s.â€
Recent figures which showed the Regional Hospital was operating at more than â‚¬14m over its budget had led to speculation that there may have to be a reduction in services.
St. Johnâ€™s has already had its emergency and acute surgical procedures transferred to the Regional Hospital, after opening hours at the emergency department were cut last February.