Hospital campaign group 'must still keep fighting'
WEXFORD General Hospital Community Alliance has received assurances from leading politicians, including the Minister for Health, that the hospital will not be downgraded, but it cannot take anything for granted, a meeting of Wexford Borough Council was told.
Chairman Fr Jim Fegan and vice-chairman Dr Paddy McKiernan briefed the council on the alliance's lobbying campaign over the past few months and reported on meetings with Minister Harney, the Fine Gael spokesman on health James O'Reilly, the Labour leader Eamonn Gilmore and TDs.
Cllr Anthony Kelly of Sinn Féin asked the alliance delegation how re-assured they had been by recent political promises that the future of the hospital was safe.
Fr Fegan replied by saying 'nothing is done until it is done'.
He reported that the Health Minister told them she had no plans to downgrade Wexford hospital at this time and agreed to go on South East Radio to say that publicly. Shortly afterwards, she did an interview on the radio with Alan Corcoran.
' The reason we are here asking for your support is nothing is in the bag yet, said Fr Fegan. 'Mary Harney was very impressed by the number of affiliated organisations attached to the alliance, but we must still keep fighting.'
Cllr Paddy Nolan of Fianna Fail asked Dr McKiernan if he were convinced that the €7 million promised for upgrading the A&E department would be spent.
'We won't be convinced until we see it being spent but at least planning permission has gone in,' he said.
Cllr Fergie Kehoe of Fianna Fáil asked Dr McKiernan if he believed some work practices in the hospital would have to change for it to move forward.
Dr McKiernan replied that there was a perception that work practices all over would have to change. ' The answer, of course, is yes. Medicine is evolving and work practices are changing as a result.'
Councillors congratulated the alliance on its campaign. Cllr Padge Reck (Independent) said it had turned what was a political football into an issue that had the support of the entire county of Wexford.