Concerns over County Limerick hospital services

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

THE “worst fears” for Croom’s orthopaedic hospital will be realised if plans by the HSE to close an operating theatre and a ward for eight months are implemented, according to local councillor, Pat Fitzgerald.

THE “worst fears” for Croom’s orthopaedic hospital will be realised if plans by the HSE to close an operating theatre and a ward for eight months are implemented, according to local councillor, Pat Fitzgerald.

In the region of 420 operations may experience delays if the proposed closures - which are planned to be introduced from May 2 - go ahead.

“It’s serious. I don’t want to be over negative but basically these are my worst fears for the hospital. My synopsis is that we are seen as the weaker link and the easy prey,” said Cllr Pat Fitzgerald this week.

“Workers and indeed the wider community need to be ready for a fight on this one,” he continued.

According to the HSE the service curtailments comprising of a reduction of thirteen beds and one operating theatre will result in a saving of €2.1 million and are part of the Mid-West Hospital Group’s efforts to operate within budget.

“The Mid-West Hospital Group has a requirement to operate within budget and must manage resources accordingly. In order to ensure that the group remains within its approved expenditure levels a budget breakeven plan is in place. Arising from the breakeven plan, service curtailments comprising a reduction of thirteen beds and one operating theatre are planned to be implemented from May 2, 2011,” explained a HSE spokesperson.

However, HSE Mid West Management has met with the orthopaedic consultants, hospital nursing and administrative management and will examine all other alternatives prior to implementation of this measure.

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital, Professor Eric Masterson says the closures would a have huge impact on patients.

“The impact of this is going to be absolutely tremendous. Over the years Croom has developed a reputation for excellence and of delivering a large number of joint replacements and other orthopaedic works to a very high standard – the kind of reductions that are proposed would mean that there would be a large number of patients for whom joint replacement will no longer be a realistic proposition,” he said.

The Mid-Western Regional Orthopaedic Hospital in Croom provides elective orthopaedic services for the Mid-West Area. The hospital currently has 50 in patient beds and nine day beds. In 2010 there were 1,744 admissions and a further 2,964 day cases in the hospital.