10 Aug 2022

Concerns voiced over possible closure of Health Centre in Offaly town

Concerns voiced over possible closure of Health Centre in Offaly town

Concerns voiced over possible closure of Health Centre in Offaly town

Serious concerns have been raised over the possible downgrading of the health centre in Cloghan this week. 

Several local representatives were contacted by a number of concerned residents from Cloghan in relation to the possible closure of its health centre and the moving of services to the new primary care centre in Banagher, the Tribune has learned.

Commenting on the matter, Barry Cowen, TD outlined how the centre currently provides a “very important service”, which covers patients from Cloghan, Shannonbridge, Clonmacnoise, Lumcloon, Shannon Harbour and Belmont. The service presently has on its system, 88 adults and 100 children and is open five days per week from 9am to 5pm.

“I raised this matter with the HSE and clearly outlined the implications such a closure may have on Cloghan and its surrounding areas. Locals have understandably expressed frustration at the potential loss of an important service, especially during this time, as we continue the ongoing pandemic. I am therefore calling on the HSE to reconsider the proposed plans,” concluded Deputy Cowen.

Independent TD for Laois Offaly Carol Nolan has said that proposals to end the availability of services at the Cloghan Health Centre is creating significant anxiety among the patients and service users who use the Castle Street facility.
Deputy Nolan was speaking after she was contacted by a number of constituents, who are fearful that the proposed transfer of services to the Primary Care Centre in Banagher will remove an important local service for almost 200 people.

“The HSE must work to assure local people that there will be no downgrading of services following on from this proposal.”

“We already have a broad lack of medical services here in Offaly and you only have to look at the ongoing delays and challenges to the creation of the Birr Primary Care Centre to see that."

"So the proposals for Cloghan Health Centre have to be seen in that overall context; one in which there is a growing sense of instability and lack of commitment to the provision of the greatest level of service in the quickest possible time within the county.”

“I have engaged with the HSE on this matter and have clearly expressed the worries that people have. I will be ensuring that clarity is provided at the earliest possible date, concluded Deputy Nolan. 

Cllr Clare Claffey was also contacted by a number of residents on the issue and subsequently contacted the HSE to get further information. “I am horrified to hear of the planned closure of the Health Centre in Cloghan,” she said last week.

Speaking this week, in response to her questioning of a HSE representative on the matter at a meeting of Birr Municipal District, Cllr Claffey said the representative “attempted to muddy the waters about the health centre in Cloghan referring to 'hubs and spokes'. “But the fact is that the public health nurses will be moving to the new primary care centre in Banagher and the health centre in Cloghan will be open by appointment only,” the councillor pointed out.

“This is not acceptable to me and I will be following this up directly with the HSE representative to ensure that this vital service for the people of Cloghan is not reduced,” she added.

Speaking at the Birr Municipal District meeting, Joe Ruane, Head of Primary Care Services, HSE DML, Midlands Area maintained he didn't know “where this rumour that Cloghan Health Centre is closing is going”.

“ I am very disappointed when I hear suggestions like that. The first thing there will always be an operation of a hub and spokes. Secondly it makes sense to have all staff under one roof and under one service. If there is a need to provide services locally they will be provided. We need to be clear on what the discussion is. Should there be any staff located in Cloghan Health Centre? The answer to this is no."

"It makes better sense for public health nurses to be located in the building where the GPs and other primary care staff operate. It improves communication. Banagher PCC and Cloghan work side by side together but you have some nurses staying in Cloghan and some nurses staying in Banagher. It makes no sense.”

“So in relation to the location of staff , it would be the intention that they would be in the new Banagher centre. In relation to Cloghan, in terms of the services that are required there, those will be scheduled there and organised and it would be more appointment based service. In terms of the suggestion that the centre is closing imminently, I am at a loss as to where that rumour came from. It is a disappointment when I hear rumours going around.”

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