Minister knew of Abbeyleix closure since July

It has been revealed that discussions on the future of Abbeyleix Hospital were being held at the highest level as far back as last July, but residents and their families are still waiting for the HSE to speak with them.

It has been revealed that discussions on the future of Abbeyleix Hospital were being held at the highest level as far back as last July, but residents and their families are still waiting for the HSE to speak with them.

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show that Minister for Health James Reilly TD was aware of the HSE proposals to close the community care facility seven months ago.

Minister Reilly received a memo on July 20 stating that the HSE proposed to close both Abbeyleix and Shaen.

“This proves there was ministerial knowledge in relation to Abbeyleix and Shaen months before any decision was announced,” said Dep Fleming who requested the documents. He maintains that the HSE based their decision to close on false information.

A letter from the HSE’s Joe Ruane, Area Manager in July stated in relation to Abbeyleix that “The physical infrastructure at the hospital is totally unsuitable and a complete re-build would be necessary to meet HIQA standards”.

“This is clearly untrue. The Health Service Executive based their decision on this false information,” says Dep Fleming.

Laois and Offaly’s elected representatives have agreed to send a joint request to the Minister, in a bid to get the HSE to begin the consultation process with residents, their families and the Abbeyleix Hospital Action Committee.

Fine Gael’s Charlie Flanagan TD, Fianna Fáil’s Sean Fleming TD, Senator John Whelan and Sinn Féin’s Brian Stanley TD agreed last Monday night to send a letter, at the request of the action committee, who are frustrated with the HSE’s refusal to even sit down and discuss terms of reference for the talks.

“The HSE need to stop with this blocking approach. The residents are absolutely anxious to enter into consultations. But without both parties agreeing terms, it is impossible,” said Gary O’Keeffe, PRO of the Abbeyleix Hospital Action Committee.

“They are extremely disappointmented with the HSE’s attitude. They are disappointed that the action committee has not managed to enter into a meaningful discussion as promised by the HSE, and they all agreed to make the joint request,” said Mr O’Keeffe.