Reilly greeted by protesters at Waterford hospital visit


Minister for Health Dr James Reilly was met by up to 50 protesters when he arrived at Waterford Regional Hospital yesterday to deliver a presentation on health reform.

The picket was placed by local people anxious about a possible loss of services at the hospital as a result of an expert report which is believed to recommend the break-up of the southeast hospital network.

“Reilly, Reilly, Reilly, out, out, out,” the protesters shouted as Dr Reilly’s car was driven into the grounds of the hospital amid a heavy security presence; the number of gardaí roughly matched the number demonstrating.

Last weekend about 15,000 people marched through Waterford in support of the hospital.

Following his presentation to hospital doctors and staff, the Minister told media he could give no guarantee about the future of the hospital network in the southeast – “because I haven’t seen the report yet” – but said the Waterford hospital would not be losing key services and he was “well disposed” to things staying as they were.

“I’m absolutely committed to the fact that there won’t be any changes to the emergency department of a negative nature, or any changes to cardiology or trauma and oncology will remain here as a centre,” Dr Reilly said last night.

“I do not want anyone to think this hospital is under threat in any way.”

However, he said he “can’t force people to stick together” in any hospital network, apparently referring to the decision by consultants at St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny to favour leaving the southeast network to partner with St James’s Hospital in Dublin.

Earlier one of the protesters, Joe Kelly, said he did not trust the Government not to downgrade Waterford Regional Hospital. “If they don’t do it in one go, they’ll try and do it with death by a thousand cuts.”