Dismantling southeast network will make hospital 'unviable'

Mon, Dec 3, 2012, 00:00

Waterford Regional Hospital (WRH) will become “unviable” and turn into a “county hospital” if the southeast hospital network is broken up, economist Jim Power has warned.

In a report on the economic and social issues associated with a downgrading of WRH or dismantling of the hospital network in the southeast, Mr Power says such a move would have “very negative consequences” for the region.

The assessment, published at the weekend and commissioned by the South East Hospitals Action Alliance, was written as the Government prepares to consider an expert group report on hospital networks. The group report is believed to recommend the severing of ties between the four main hospitals in the southeast.

This development, opponents say, would result in the regional hospital losing services. It’s understood the Government’s expert report backs the alignment of WRH and South Tipperary General Hospital with Cork University Hospital; St Luke’s General Hospital in Kilkenny with St James’s Hospital in Dublin and Wexford General Hospital with St Vincent’s Hospital.

The recently-formed action alliance is comprised of business people, medics, staff and community interests.

According to Mr Power, the range of hospital services in the southeast can be “justified and sustained” by the region’s population of almost 500,000. “However,” he says, “there are fears that the clinical network in the southeast may be broken up and the constituent hospitals realigned to different hospitals in Cork and Dublin. This would have significant implications for all of the hospitals involved, but particularly for Waterford Regional Hospital.

“The specialist services provided in WRH would become unviable if it were no longer part of the southeast clinical network, as the local population could not sustain it.”