THE HSE has yet to make a decision on the future of Abbeyleix and Shaen hospitals as its budget mismanagement continues to cause much hardship for the people of Laois.
And when Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming felt he was being ‘stonewalled’ by top health officials ‘who are on €200,00 a year’ he decided ‘to tell them straight’ to resign.
Deputy Fleming stormed out of last Tuesday’s (October 9) Dáil Public Accounts Committee after Department of Health Secretary General Dr Ambrose McLoughlin and new HSE Chief Executive Tony O’Brien made an opening statement where they declared they were refusing to discuss their current financial situation.
An irate Deputy Fleming labelled their behaviour as ‘outrageous’ and insisted that his dramatic walk out was not a points scoring exercise nor a media headline grabbing stunt.
“It wasn’t a stunt. I’ve attended more than two hundred and fifty PAC meetings and never before has anyone come in and make an opening statement to tell us they wouldn’t be answering questions.”
He highlighted how significant funding cuts announced recently by the HSE had impacted negatively on Home Help services in Laois, the Abbeyleix and Mountrath Respite centres, while the future of Abbeyleix and Shaen hospitals also hang in the balance.
“There are cuts and decisions being considered to close hospitals all because they are not managing their budget properly and it is utterly unacceptable for these people to come in and stonewall the national parliament. I said they weren’t fit for office and if they were going to continue like that they should resign,” remarked unrepentant Deputy Fleming.
A HSE spokesperson outlined that a decision on Abbeyleix and Shaen hospitals hasn’t been made yet. “It is with the Designated Officer for consideration,” was their brief statement. Deputy Fleming said the opening statement made by the officials was ‘not satisfactory’.
“I decided to tell them straight because for too long poeople have said that TD’s are sitting up there and not actually making a stand when they have people coming in front of them and not answering questions.
“What I did by walking out, I actually shocked them and shook them and they ended up answering some of the questions because they said they weren’t going to do so.”
After making his ‘protest’, Deputy Fleming watched the PAC proceedings on a monitor from his Dáil office.