TD wants health services investigated


An independent investigation must be established into how all the health services in the north-east operate, a local TD has said.

Mr Paudge Connolly said an investigative team, along the lines of that established by the Minister for Health, Mr Martin, to examine emergency obstetric services in Monaghan following the Bronagh Livingstone case, should "inquire into the whole service being provided by the North Eastern Health Board". The report from the independent panel was published by the Department of Health on Friday, along with the report of the investigation by the NEHB.

"That independent inquiry was limited in its scope. If a similar team went in to look at all the services, well it's mind-boggling," said Mr Connolly.

"I am sure they would dig up issues that are equally startling." He also said it was "vital" that the management consultant, Mr Kevin Bonnar, appointed by Mr Martin to implement the recommendations of the independent report, "attend the special meeting of the board on January 7th".

A special board meeting has been scheduled to discuss the implications of the two reports.

"It is vital he attends so he gets to know how the board members are being ignored," said Mr Connolly. He added that he would raise "a number of issues" at the special meeting in early January. Among these would be the "negative impact" the reduction in emergency services at Monaghan was having on Cavan General Hospital.

"Since the 20th of June when Monaghan was taken off-call Cavan has not done any elective surgery as the beds are all blocked with emergency surgery from Monaghan and Cavan.

"Simple things like the removal of varicose veins are having to be carried out under the treatment purchase scheme in hospitals in places like Mullingar." He said waiting times at the A&E in Cavan were longer than ever, with reports of patients having to wait up to 14 hours for treatment.

Monaghan's "need" for a full A&E services given its status as a hub town in the National Spatial Strategy and the possibility of cross-Border co-operation between the health services North and South would also be raised, said Mr Connolly. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the NEHB said meetings were held at Monaghan General Hospital yesterday between senior management and "groups of hospital staff" for discussions "in light of the two reports".

It is understood, however, that the hospital was not visited by anyone from the Health Board HQ in Kells, Co Meath yesterday. The manager of Cavan-Monaghan Hospital, Mr Kevin Molloy, did go to the hospital though his visit was described by one member of staff as "purely routine".

The Green Party MEP, Ms Patricia McKenna, a native of Monaghan, said full maternity and emergency services must be restored at Monaghan. "People anticipated the tragedy that was baby Bronagh's death a long time ago and it will happen again if this Government does not address the critical state of Monaghan's health care services," she said.