The Minister for Health Simon Harris is to question management within the RCSI Hospital Group over proposed plans to remove the delivery of complex medical and trauma procedures at Cavan General Hospital.
The issue came to a head after Cavan-Monaghan Fianna Fail TD Niamh Smyth raised the matter in the Dáil on yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon, with Minister Harris, and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who was also present.
Both were asked of their input, if any, into the plans which Deputy Smyth suggested amounted to a “downgrade” of services, effectively turning the local hospital site into a “day procedure” facility.
It follows a meeting between Chief of the RCSI Hospital Group Ian Carter and local hospital management just last weeks, where its understood some of the proposed plans to bypass CGH for certain procedures to Dublin's Beaumont Hospital were trashed out.
Citing the Programme for Government and its commitment to provide “timely access to care” for all patients across the country, Deputy Smyth said: “It is my understanding that last week consultants were informed that all complex medical procedures are to stop at the hospital, that all trauma procedures are to stop, essentially turning the hospital into a day procedure hospital.”
Addressing An Taoiseach, she asked if he had “instructed or is aware” of any such plans, noting too if the proposals were to be adopted, that the long-awaited need for investment in CGH's Emergency Department Unit would not longer be needed.
“Are you downgrading it in favour of Beaumont?” she asked.
“No such instruction took place,” responded Minister Harris, who acknowledged that CGH is one of the “best performing” hospitals in the country. “It is one that has a very low number and often nobody on a hospital trolley, and does very well in relation to its elective waiting lists as well.”
He also addressed the future of Monaghan Hospital, which he visited recently, stating: “I believe we can do an awful lot more there. It is a shame what was allowed happen there in the past.”
But the Minister noted: “Obviously the RCSI Hospital Group works as a Group in terms of what services are best delivered, and I have no decision, I've no instructions given, not by me and I will follow this up with the RCSI.”