Thursday 14 December 2017

Hospital downgrade fears


THE RESIGNATION of Dr. Colm Quigley as clinical head of the reconfiguration group for acute hospitals in the south-east has confirmed everyone's worst fears about the future of Wexford General Hospital.

Dr. Quigley who is Clinical Director of Wexford Hospital handed in his resignation last Friday and later explained that: 'I believe it was the most appropriate thing to do in the circumstances.'

During his time heading up the review group, Dr. Quigley had argued that reconfiguration was a necessary change so long as it improved patient care while he publicly supported the campaign for the retention of acute services in Wexford General Hospital and appeared at a number of rallies.

His decision to become actively involved in the reconfiguration project was based on a wish to influence the project in what he believed was the right direction. All that changed last Friday when he stepped down around the same time that information was leaked about alleged proposals to downgrade Wexford's A&E unit and transfer maternity to Waterford Regional Hospital.

The leak outlined a plan to have Wexford Hospital provide 12-hour urgent care only with no acute surgery and no maternity services and to have Waterford and Kilkenny hospitals providing most of the region's needs. When pressed about the reason for his shock resignation, Dr. Quigley said he felt the 'terms of reference had altered with the passage of time.'

'You can draw your own conclusions. I would have been very clear that I support change if it improves the care of the patient. We in Wexford General Hospital are committed to any proposals that allow us to provide patients with the best care that we can give them,' he said.

'I would be concerned that equity would be maintained,' he said. 'Wexford is one of the best performing hospitals in the country. It is important that Wexford's performance is recognised. I would be very annoyed if changes took place that did not take sufficient account of this performance.'

'I and my colleagues are committed to the future of Wexford General Hospital. My view on the reconfiguration is that it should lead to improved care for everybody in the south-east ensuring that what we deliver is the same quality as that provided in Cork and Dublin,' said Dr. Quigley who will continue to represent Wexford General Hospital on the reconfiguration steering group.

'I would be very clear at this point that staff and patients all have fears about the future. It is important to say that my commitment is to ensuring that patient services are improved and that any changes that come are equitable,' he said.

'I have consistently supported the process of reconfiguration. Wexford has implemented changes and will continue to do so but it must be equitable. I need to make sure that Wexford does not lose out. We will continue to work hard to ensure that Wexford General continues to be a good hospital.'

Labour councillor and HSE Forum member Pat Cody said the latest statement issued by the HSE does little to reassure the people of Wexford who are now convinced that Wexford General Hospital has been earmarked for a serious reduction in services.

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