Offaly County Council to request regular meetings with HSE
Offaly County Council are set to request a regular quarterly meeting with the HSE in order to discuss service provision and all arising issues for healthcare providers and users in the county.
The move comes after a motion laid down by Cllr. John Clendennen at the May meeting of Offaly County Council was passed, having been seconded by Cllr. Peter Ormond.
The motion proposed that: "Offaly County Council establish a Local Representative Committee to meet with Representatives of the HSE on a quarterly basis, to discuss all matters relating to health services in Offaly."
The motion was put down in the wake of the recent Midoc closures in Birr and Edenderry which saw out of hours GP services in those towns subsumed into the Tullamore clinic. Councillors and local users of the service were quick to criticise the sudden closer of the service without any local consultation.
The HSE contended at the time that the decision was taken after consultation with GPs in the county. A meeting to discuss the fallout from the closures was attended by Offaly County Council and HSE representatives, although Midoc failed to send a representative, a move that both angered and frustrated councillors.
Introducing the topic to the council, Cllr Clendennen said that since and prior to the Midoc closures, locals had run into ongoing issues in nursing homes, home help and other services, but bemoaned the lack of "a network" between Offaly County Council and the HSE to discuss such issues.
"A quarterly meeting with them, similar to the Joint Policing Committee, would be beneficial and until we have this forum, we can't really assist people with their queries," Cllr Clendennen said. He went on to suggest that the regional meetings of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group (DMHG) were too broad and not sufficient to answer local issues of this nature.
Cllr. Tommy McKeigue also supported the motion and blasted the HSE, suggesting that the nationalising of the health service in the first place "was not satisfactory," and had gone away from what it was originally supposed to be, "the best local service possible."
Cllr John Leahy also spoke in favour of requesting regular meetings with the HSE, saying, "They [HSE] have to start focusing on rural Ireland." He said rural and urban areas can not be treated the same when it comes to service provision and cuts. He also complained about the DMHG meetings, saying the process of submitting questions and getting answers is labourious.
Cllr Noel Cribbin said that Midoc have failed to engage on the issue of the Edenderry and Birr closures since the announcement, adding, "We as local representatives and our TDs have been totally ignored." He continued to support the motion, suggesting it "might make a stir."
Cllr Dervill Dolan suggested that perhaps instead of a "closed shop" style meeting with the council and HSE, that officials from the health service should be asked to attend a full monthly council meeting to answer for closures and service provision issues.
Cathaoirleach Liam Quinn said that Offaly County Council will write to the HSE to request they attend to appear before a council meeting in the first instance with a view to establishing a regular network forum thereafter.
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