Kenny 'regrets' confusion as hospital to cut services

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he regrets confusion his comments on Roscommon County Hospital may have caused, but warned Fine Gael's previous commitments on the hospital's services were "no longer tenable".

Mr Kenny has come under pressure after a recording taken on the election trail last February reveals him promising to maintain emergency department services at Roscommon County Hospital.

In the recording, Mr Kenny vows to “protect and defend” the hospital and encourages people to vote for local Fine Gael candidates Frank Feighan and Denis Naughten.

In a statement today, Mr Kenny today admitted he had made repeated a "publicly known commitment, made in good faith by Fine Gael, on the retention of services at Roscommon County Hospital".

"Since then, the independent health regulator HIQA has advised that the provision of accident and emergency services at Roscommon and other smaller hospitals is not safe. The Government cannot ignore this expert advice and, consequently this element of Fine Gael's commitment is no longer tenable," he said.

"I regret any confusion that may have arisen from my comments yesterday. It was never my intention to mislead anyone on this matter."

The recording, made by a Sunday Business Post reporter, has proved highly embarrassing for Mr Kenny who insisted on Friday that there would be no reversal of the decision to close the hospital’s emergency department.

Addressing supporters in Roscommon town, Mr Kenny is heard saying on the recording: “I have defended the nurses and the doctors and the workers and the people of Roscommon over the years about this hospital and will do so again.”

He goes on to say: “Deputy Denis Naughten has pointed out that if the intention is to close the accident and emergency unit in Roscommon County Hospital for 12 hours a day, that will create unprecendent pressure on an over-stressed Portiuncula Hospital. We are committed to maintaining the services at Roscommon County Hospital.”

Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams the Taoiseach's explanation for the failure to keep A&E services at the hospital was "not good enough".

"The Taoiseach should do the decent thing – that means keeping his promise," he said. “Full accident and emergency services should be restored to Roscommon.”

Roscommon's emergency department will close tomorrow and will be replaced with an urgent care centre which will be doctor-led. In four weeks time an out-of-hours GP-led service will be provided.

Mr Kenny said the Government would proceed with its plans to reform of the health service andsaid it would prove its commitment to the future of smaller hospitals, including Roscommon.