Removal of A&E from Monaghan Hospital did not lead to improved services – Carthy
“Which is it? Is it an operational matter or are Fianna Fáil playing political games?” So asked Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy, referring to services at Monaghan Hospital in a Dáil debate on Tuesday evening.
Carthy was speaking during a debate on a Sinn Féin motion in respect of the threatened closure of emergency services at Navan Hospital.
In his remarks Deputy Carthy recalled previous commitments provided on Monaghan Hospital including by the then Fianna Fáil Minister (and now Taoiseach) Mícheál Martin in 2002 when he gave ‘a categorical assurance that the future of the General Hospital was secure’ according to newspaper headlines at that time.
He noted that service after service were subsequently removed from Monaghan Hospital and, in response to current Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, Carthy stated bluntly: “Don’t you dare say that the removal of services at Monaghan Hospital led to better services elsewhere, because there’s precisely no evidence of that.”
Referencing his ongoing call for the expansion of hours at the Minor Injuries Unit at Monaghan Hospital, Deputy Carthy took aim at Fianna Fáil. He cited a response from Minister Donnelly to him that stated that this was ‘an operational matter’ but that there is ‘no plans’ to expand the opening hours.
He then produced a copy of last weeks article in The Northern Standard sub-titled ‘Senator Gallagher informed that Minister willing to engage on extending opening hours’ leading Carthy to ask the above question.
He said the decision of Cavan Monaghan Fianna Fáil TDs to vote against the Sinn Féin motion on Navan Hospital showed that their party had, in fact, learned nothing from the experiences in Monaghan.
Speaking to the motion, Deputy Carthy said:
“The people of Meath are 100% correct to fight for their hospital services and their elected representatives are absolutely correct to bring this matter to the floor of the Dáil.
“I would say to the people of Meath and their representatives to be keep fighting and to be extremely weary of promises of better services to come at some point in the future.
“Because, as someone from County Monaghan we’ve heard it all before”.
Producing a local newspaper front page from 2002, Deputy Carthy said:
“We know what happens to commitments on local hospital services given by Fianna Fáil Ministers for Health. Look at this headline from 2002:
“‘Minister Assures future of Monaghan Hospital’.
“Who was that Minister? None other than ‘Minister for Health and Children, Mícheál Martin TD, gave a categorical assurance in Monaghan on Tuesday that the future of Monaghan General Hospital was secure.’
“We’re not even allowed to call it a general hospital anymore!
“But, of course, that Minister, Micheál Martin, and all those who came behind him – continued to oversee the downgrading of services from our hospital. Always with the promise of better services to come.
“We’re still waiting. Because better services didn’t come.
“Ask anyone who has drove by the gates of Monaghan Hospital to land in the maelstrom that is Cavan or Drogheda emergency departments that are bursting at the seams; that are forced to wait for hours on end and dealing with staff that over-stretched and over-burdened.
“Minister Donnelly, don’t you dare say that the removal of services at Monaghan Hospital led to better services elsewhere, because there’s precisely no evidence of that.
Minor Injuries Unit
“Monaghan was given, instead of emergency services, a Minor Injuries Unit.
“But, it only operates five days a week from 9am-5pm – by far the shortest opening hours of any MIU in the state. If those services were expanded it would ease the pressure on GP services that are extremely stressed and on A&E services.
“When I asked Minister Donnelly to ensure the expansion of those hours he stated it was an operational matter and ‘that there are no plans to extend the operating times of the Minor Injury Unit at Monaghan Hospital’.”
Holding a copy of last weeks The Northern Standard, Carthy continued:
“But, then a Fianna Fáil Senator last week reported that the Health Minister is willing to engage on the issue of the Minor Injuries Unit.
“So, which is it? Is it an operational matter, or are Fianna Fáil once again playing politics.
“We’ll know when the vote on this motion takes place. Because any representative from Meath or surrounding communities votes in favour of the government amendment – knowing the experience that happened in Monaghan and elsewhere – are knowingly voting for the removal of services at their local hospital. They are knowingly voting for increased pressures on Drogheda A&E.
“And, if any representative from Cavan Monaghan votes for that amendment then all they are showing is that they have learned nothing from the experiences of the people of Monaghan.
“Shame on them!” he concluded.