Hospital services in South Tipperary are under ‘sustained threat’ according to Deputy Mattie McGrath who has slammed Health Minister James Reilly for failing to meet Oireachtas members on the issue.
Deputy McGrath, who clashed with Fine Gael TD Tom Hayes in the Dail last week on the motion of no confidence on the Health Minister, said services such as the 24 hour A&E and beds at South Tipperary General Hospital were under threat as well as a ward and respite facilities at St. Patricks in Cashel.
Deputy Hayes said every part of the health services in South Tipperary and all over the country was ‘under the microscope’ at the moment.
“Changes are being sought in departments and people are being asked to bring down budgets. It is a constant battle but the bottom line is that as far as this government is concerned South Tipperary General Hospital will remain open and services will remain,” he insisted.
Deputy Hayes called on Deputy McGrath to desist from undermining South Tipperary General Hospital in the Dail and to ‘join the fight to protect the services rather than rip us apart “.
Deputy McGrath said he was aware of high level meetings that took place over the last month between management and staff at South Tipperary General during when cutbacks were discussed.
“All these talks are going on behind closed doors. Cutbacks in hospital beds at STGH and 24 hour A&E as well as cutbacks in respite and closure of a ward in St. Patricks were all on the cards. Oireachtas members were to be called in to be informed of a decision but I understand that such moves have been put on hold for the moment,”
He hit out at Minister Reilly for failing to engage with South Tipperary Oireachtas members while the services in the area were under threat.
“He is eighteen months in government and has refused to meet OIreachtas members. The staff at South Tipperary General Hospital are under intense pressure every day of the week and the Minister is refusing to engage with us,” said Deputy McGrath.
He accused the Minister of putting on a show when he did visit Clonmel shortly after the general election to launch a new arrangement between STGH and Limerick University students.
“He nearly knocked people off trolleys such was his hurry to get away. He went through the building and then fled in his car without speaking to anybody. It had been arranged that he would speak to Oireachtas members but after leaving us waiting for two hours he disappeared,” said Deputy McGrath..
The South Tipperary TD’s clashed in the Dail during debate on the ‘No Confidence’ motion in Minister Reilly.
“Cromwell did not run as fast from Tipperary as did the Minister. No, he went over the border. He has his stately mansion in Moneygall and his tax-free breaks.”
When Deputy Hayes sought to make a point of clarification and asked Deputy McGrath to sit for one minute, he refused.
“I will stay standing as well,” he said. “I will never stand for a Fine Gaeler. I will stand up to the Deputy any day of the week. Fine Gael promised everything and delivered nothing. It was the same way back in the 1920s.”
Deputy Hayes said he wished to put on the record of the House that South Tipperary General Hospital was being closed down prior to the general election. “However, a new Minister, Deputy Reilly took office and now we in South Tipperary have services enjoyed by no other county,” he said.
But Deputy McGrath rejected Deputy Hayes’ intervention as “total nonsense”.
“The problem is not with the Government but with the Minister, Deputy Reilly. He does not have time to deal with the health portfolio because he is too busy fighting the wars on his property portfolio. He does not have time to look after the ordinary people.”
The Fianna Fáil motion was defeated by 99 votes to 49.
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