Inis Óirr and Inishturk secure permanent nursing cover

Aran island post will depend on air service with ‘uncertain future’, says co-op manager

HSE West has approved the appointment of a permanent nurse to the Co Mayo island of Inishturk, which had no basic medical cover from September 2014. File photograph: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Two islands have been given permanent nursing cover after long campaigns to have the posts filled.

HSE West has approved the appointment of a permanent nurse to the Co Mayo island of Inishturk, which had no basic medical cover from September 2014, while a permanent position for three days a week has been approved for the Aran island of Inis Oírr.

The RNLI Clifden lifeboat had to be tasked over Christmas to provide medical assistance on Inishturk, due to the absence of any resident medical assistance. It brought Clifden GP Ciarán MacLoughlin out when an elderly resident became very ill.

The previous nurse on Inishturk had stayed on for nine months after her retirement to assist the 58 islanders living 14.5km off the Mayo coast.

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On Inis Oírr, the southernmost Aran island, nursing cover was reduced to a temporary three-day service after its nurse retired in April 2014. A permanent nursing position for three days a week has now been approved.

Inis Oírr co-op manager Paddy Crowe welcomed the appointment, but said that it would be dependent on the air service, which has an uncertain future.

Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann chairman Máirtín Ó Méalóid of Cape Clear has said that “islanders of necessity must have qualified medical professionals available in the case of medical need or outright emergency”.

Last year, he called for a “clear and firm islands policy on a national level to ensure continued service provision, and to eliminate the existing uncertainty around health”.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times