Campaigners oppose cuts at Cherry Orchard hospital


RELATIVES OF patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have expressed their concern at the Health Service Executive’s proposal to reduce services at an acute unit at Cherry Orchard hospital in Ballyfermot, Dublin.

Relatives were recently informed that eight of the 17 patients in the Laurel unit were to be transferred to vacant beds around the hospital, while the other nine patients would remain in the unit.

Campaigners opposing cuts in the unit, which cares for people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, held a public meeting in Ballyfermot Civic Centre last night.

The meeting was chaired by local councillor Brid Smith of People Before Profit, who said campaigners would hold other events in the coming weeks, including a protest march in Ballyfermot planned for July 1st.

John Archbald’s 82-year-old mother has lived in the Laurel unit for the last seven years. Mr Archbald is part of the campaign opposing the proposed cuts, which he described as “disgraceful”.

“Unfortunately Government and HSE cuts are becoming the norm in Ireland today. We’ll campaign and fight against them; what else can we do?” he asked.

Vanessa Kingston’s 78-year-old father has lived in the Laurel unit for the last three years. Ms Kingston said her father would be “devastated” if he relocated to another ward. “Living in the unit has become his routine now, and if he is moved to a different ward it would be devastating for him. He has made so many friends in the unit; it is his new home.”

The HSE plans to reduce services in the unit due to staff shortages. These cannot be filled because of the public service recruitment embargo.

It is understood that hospital officials recently informed patients’ relatives that the HSE plans to reduce operations in the coming weeks with a view to closing the unit on a long-term basis.

In its statement the HSE confirmed patients would be transferred to other wards, but stressed that the unit would not be closing and there would be no overall reduction in the level of service provided by the hospital.

Catherine Byrne, Fine Gael TD for Dublin South Central, did not attend last night’s public meeting but said she had arranged a meeting with the CEO of the hospital to discuss the proposed cuts and attempt to negotiate a deal suitable to both sides.