Closure of Abbeyleix not ‘preordained’ - Minister

THE closure of Abbeyleix hospital is not “preordained” and the “slow” progress of the consultation on any shutdown is in the hospital’s “favour”, a Goverment Minister has said.

THE closure of Abbeyleix hospital is not “preordained” and the “slow” progress of the consultation on any shutdown is in the hospital’s “favour”, a Goverment Minister has said.

In reply to questions from Fine Gael’s Charlie Flanagan and Sinn Fein’s Brian Stanley, Minister of State for the Elderly, Kathleen Lynch told TDs that the hospital’s future was not yet decided.

“I wish to reassure the Deputy and, more importantly, the residents of Abbeyleix community nursing unit, and their families, that no decision has been made to close the unit,” she said.

Pushed on the issue of consultation by Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Minister Lynch gave more details on the consultation first promised after three elderly patients took the HSE to the High Court.

“The consultation process will take three months to complete and if a recommendation is made at that point, then HIQA will have to be given six months notice in respect of it.

“It is all in Abbeyleix community nursing unit’s favour that the process involved is slow. Neither the relevant files nor the consultations in which I have engaged with the Department have indicated there is a foregone conclusion in respect of this matter,” said the Labour Party Minister.

Minister Lynch told Charlie Flanagan that families, residents and support workers within communities will be the priority in the consultation, which would also involve public representatives.

“If we wish for something to happen long enough, then sometimes our wish will come true. The Health Service Executive is not preordained in this instance. I am convinced the best possible outcome that we could wish for will occur in this case.

“We need to reassure those with loved ones in nursing homes, not just Abbeyleix, that their best interests, as well as their will and preference, must be taken into account.

“The process will begin and all stakeholders, including public representatives, will be contacted and consulted on this. We all wish that at the end of this consultation process the best possible outcome will be achieved for those whose home it is,” she told the Dail.