A number of local politicians have moved to reassure the public about the future of local Health Care Centres throughout North Roscommon.
There were fears for the future of a number of Health Care Centres earlier this week following a story broadcast on local Radio which said that services being provided in existing health centres in North Roscommon would be reviewed in light of the opening of the Primary Care Centre in Boyle in September.
Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy is satisfied that there is no threat of closure over Elphin and Strokestown HSE Health Care Centres following clarification on the issue from the Chief Officer of the CHO Area 2 (Galway, Mayo and Roscommon).
“There had been some recent speculation and indeed widespread confusion that Elphin and Strokestown HSE health centres may be under threat of closure when the new Boyle Primary Care centre opens to the public. I have made contact with Tony Canavan, Chief Officer of the CHO Area 2 and following a lengthy discussion with him and confirmation by email I am satisfied that there is no threat of closure to the new primary care centre in Strokestown or the primary care centre in Elphin. Indeed the Elphin centre is one of the busiest centres in the region.
“However Mr Canavan did indicate that some other smaller health centres which the HSE claims have a poor turnover of people more than likely will close when the new Boyle Primary Care Centre is fully operational. Mr Canavan did not indicate the names of the smaller centres which would be earmarked for closure and I understand that a review of all smaller centres will take place.
While I am prepared to accept Mr Canavan’s word that no threat of closure hangs over Elphin or Strokestown HSE health centres I am also seeking assurances that no services attached to Elphin or Strokestown will be removed. I will also be seeking information on the full list of smaller centres which will be earmarked for closure as this will obviously be a major issue for smaller rural centres in the hinterland of the new Boyle Primary Care Centre as many people using these centres are elderly and they may have limited mobility and transport would be a major issue. Indeed this was one of the assurances which I sought from Tony Canavan that transport issues in the rural hinterland of Boyle would be addressed ,” concluded Deputy Murphy.
Senator Maura Hopkins says “any suggestion that there would be closure of smaller health centres in Ballaghaderreen, Elphin and Strokestown is completely and entirely unacceptable.
“I discussed the issue at length on Wednesday last with the Chief Health Officer from HSE Community Health Organisation 2, Tony Canavan. I strongly emphasised to him that these local services are essential and that closure of local services such as in Ballaghaderreen, Elphin or Strokestown would not be tolerated.”
“The primary care centre currently under construction in Boyle will be hugely positive for people, allowing them to access a wide range of health services and specialist services such as mental health, opthalomology, dentistry, multidisciplinary team members such as public health nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and dieticians.”
“Many of the services which are currently delivered in our acute hospitals could be provided in a primary care centre particularly specific outpatient appointments. It is important that the Boyle Primary Care Centre, once completed will be capable of delivering such services where appropriate. This will reduce the need for people to travel long distances to attend hospital appointments.
Senator Hopkins concluded, “I believe that it is critical that the local health services in Ballaghaderreen, Elphin and Strokestown are improved in terms of physical infrastructure and that they are adequately staffed. People must be able to access local health services in their local communities.”
In a statement released earlier Senator Frank Feighan said he has received a categorical assurance from the HSE that the Elphin Health Centre will not close.
“I can say with certainty that this is not going to happen. I have had discussions with the HSE in the last number of days and have pointed out that Elphin Health Centre is providing an excellent range of services to the local community, not least for older people.
“The HSE is carrying out a review of local services being provided by Health Centres in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon in the context of whether some services would be more appropriately delivered from a Primary Care Centre.
“However, there is absolutely no danger to the future of Elphin Health Centre and its services and I am pleased I have got that definitive commitment from the HSE.
“This categorical assurance will bring to an end any fears or concerns local people in Elphin had about losing vital local health services on their doorstep.”