Fianna Fail Senator’s fears about future of Sligo Hospital emergency services ‘scaremongering,’ claims McLoughlin

University Health Care Group confirms services in region’s hospitals have been reviewed.

Sligo News File Online.

A Fianna Fail Senator, who spoke of his worry about a possible reduction in the Emergency Services at Sligo University Hospital has been accused of “scaremongering.”

Senator Marc MacSharry, Fianna Fail
Senator Marc MacSharry,
Fianna Fail

Senator Marc MacSharry said he had “grave concerns” following news that the Saolta Hospital Group had embarked on a review of hospital services in the region.

He said, “I am extremely concerned about the review…and I am particularly worried about the implications for Sligo University Hospital.”

However, a local Fine Gael TD has attacked the senator’s concerns, describing his comments as “scaremongering.”

Tony McLoughlin, a general election candidate, said he “was astounded that Marc MacSharry was given the opportunity to spread a complete falsehood.

Tony McLoughlin, TD, Fine Gael, Sligo-Leitrim
Tony McLoughlin, TD,
Fine Gael, Sligo-Leitrim

“…It was a deliberate attempt to scaremonger the electorate on the eve of the most important election for this country in decades,” he said.

However, the University Health Care Group has since officially confirmed that it has reviewed services in the group’s regional hospitals.

In a statement issued on its behalf, the Group states, “Saolta University Health Care Group has already undertaken reviews in respect of cardiology, urology and orthopaedic services and a review of the Emergency Care Units across the Group…”

These, the statement says, “have now been completed.”



The statement adds that the Group’s Executive Council, in collaboration with the local hospitals’ management and clinical teams and the HSE’s National Acute Hospitals senior management team, have now considered the report’s recommendations, “as has the Board of the Saolta Group.

“Work is underway by the Group’s Executive Council on developing plans, for further consideration by the Saolta board, that will look at both the implementation and impact of the recommendations.”

Although the statement goes on to advise that “recommendations in relation to the Emergency Department at Sligo University Hospital did not include a possible reduction of opening hours”,  it is not apparent at this stage that the recommendations of the report won’t have implications for services in Sligo.

Responding to McLoughlin’s claims, Senator MacSharry said the “facts are that plans are constantly afoot within the secret echelons of the HSE and/or Government, and it is the duty of all public representatives to ensure that the people are made aware of any potential threat to services in time so that citizens can have their say in any ill-conceived plans to undermine their rights to equal access to acute services.”

He said people in recent years would recall “my exposing and ultimately releasing the report reviewing maternity services within the Solta Hospital Group which clearly outlined that proposals being considered included the potential closure of some maternity services and the potential downgrading of others to midwife-led services rather than consultant led services.

“This grew into a national controversy involving then Minister Reilly and ultimately led to the abandonment of such recommendations at least for now.”

He said sources that had told him of the proposals for the maternity services had also now informed him of “a review of A&E services within the Saolta hospitals group, and that the self- same review may be considering options that included the potential closure of some A&Es and the potential reduction to a 12 hour per day service in others.

Sligo University Hospital
Sligo University Hospital

“This is a reality that anyone in our region could scarcely countenance but we all learned the harsh reality of initial complacency in threats to our cancer services.

“Prudence demands immediate intervention in any plans or reviews that may threaten the services to Sligo University Services.”

He said he welcomed the Saolta statement that Sligo University is not under threat of downgrading to a 12-hour service

“Other hospitals can quite rightly now seek their own assurances on other A&Es in other hospitals in the region.

“The legacy issues in downgrading of hospital services in our region demand constant vigilance to ensure we lose no more.

“For this reason, I am delighted that I exposed the current review and will remain vigilant on behalf of the people of our region when it comes to any potential threat to our services.

Meanwhile, it does not appear that the contract for the promised No Cancer Service No Voteinstallation of a mammography service at the Sligo University Hospital has yet been finalised. McLoughlin issued a statement 8 days ago, stating the contract would be signed within a week.

Below is the headline of press statement issued by or on behalf of Deputy Tony McLoughlin  on 12 February 2015.

Contract for a Follow-Up Mammography Service at Sligo University Hospital Will be Signed Next Week. – McLoughlin.