Abbeyleix consultation failure ‘a scandal’ says campaigner

tHE Save Abbeyleix Hospital Action Committee has said that the HSE’s failure to start the consultation process on the future of the nursing home is worse than the day they announced the closure.

tHE Save Abbeyleix Hospital Action Committee has said that the HSE’s failure to start the consultation process on the future of the nursing home is worse than the day they announced the closure.

Almost six months have passed since the HSE first pledged to consult on the hospital’s closure after three patients brought the executive to the High Court, last December.

Two days before a second planned protest in Abbeyleix, the HSE finally announced that it would “commence consultation on the planning and provision of services for older people in the midland counties Laois, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath on the week of May 8.”

Last week, a spokesperson for the HSE said they expected the process to get underway before the end of the week, and full details of the process would be available as soon as it commences.

However, following a second request for the full details, the HSE confirmed on Monday afternoon (May 14) that the process had not yet commenced, but said there would be a consultation process.

“There will be a consultation process. It has not yet commenced. I will be in touch with you with full details as soon as we are ready to publish,” the spokesperson said.

Last week, the Irish Nurse and Midwives Organisation revealed that there are currently 18 beds closed in Abbeyleix.

The Abbeyleix Action Committee have reacted angrily to the HSE’s failure to start the consultation process, as promised.

“This is shocking, disgraceful, and an absolute insult to the patients and families in Abbeyleix hospital and to the entire population of county Laois. This is saying we will do this the HSE way and we couldn’t give a damn about any protest,” PRO, Gary O’Keeffe said.

He called on the county’s elected representatives to intervene.

“It is time our elected TDs and Senator step up to the plate and plead with the Minister to step in and put an end to the anguish being caused to the residents and families.

“This is worse than the first day they announced the closure. At least then we were only starting the fight. We have had two massive public demonstrations and countless meetings, but it seems to no avail. It seems the HSE are intent on saying we couldn’t give a damn what you do - we are doing it our way.

“This is not democracy. This is not smart austerity. This is a real live scandal. It’s time to really raise the bar now as the HSE keep moving the goal posts,” he said.

The HSE declined to comment on Mr O’Keeffe’s remarks.