Cllr John Clendennen
Calls were made for the HSE to come back before Birr Municipal District and provide information on the location of the proposed new primary care centre for Birr and its proximity to the town.
Cllr John Clendennen raised the issue at the March meeting of the MD where he pointed out that the full engagement at the meeting with the Health Service Executive (HSE) at the February meeting was “totally unacceptable”.
“If anything, it left us with nothing but concerns and worries about where this project was going and the delivery of it. I think there were some very fair, reasonable and clear questions that were asked and that were not responded to. Following that engagement, we got a commitment from the HSE that they would start to engage with us in a more efficient manner. However, this has not occurred and I put it to the test myself by writing to them within hours of last month's meeting. I have yet to await a response despite their commitment to do so.”
“They know what our questions are. They basically wholeheartedly avoided them and I think we should invite them back again. On the basis that we have four weeks already and another month to prepare and to come back with a clear timeline and a clear plan as to where we are going with the delivery of our primary care centre. They said themselves that this has been going for a decade.
"It is very much in their court and we need to know what we need to do now. I think in order to go forward we have to establish the clarity and the transparency around the procurement process and we have to understand the proximity to the town centre and where it is going to be.”
“In addition to all the information that we received in relation to services and diagnostics which is all well and good if we don't have a site. I want that information asap from the HSE.”
Cllr Peter Ormond then came in on this issue where he said that he was in communication with the HSE on this matter after the last meeting. “I did receive a phone call from the HSE's Joe Ruane. My understanding is that they are going through the site selection process at the moment and that site selection is imminent and perhaps, we might have this decision in the next month coming back to us. Certainly, things are moving quite fast."
Cllr Clendennen then interjected by saying that “this is exactly the problem”. “This Chinese whisper is going on with the HSE where they are in contact with one councillor and they are not in contact with another and they are responding and they are not responding. We looked for a formal approach which we made through our Director of Services.”
“It was a lottery here a couple of weeks ago. If you answered the phone it was good and if you did not, that was it and it seems to be continuing. Are they going to formally engage or what is the process that they are going to undertake and I think that is a concern that I have. Every councillor should be following up and they are entitled to and keep the pressure on to but I do think the lack of engagement overall has been despicable.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Clare Claffey told the Tribune she's received calls from many constituents, who are “really worried” about the continued delays with the PCC and they are starting to “fear that it won't happen”.
According to the Social Democratic councillor, the Health Service Executive hasn't kept the elected representatives fully informed and that has to change. “Coming to a meeting and saying loads while saying very little, that has to stop. We need them to keep us informed at every stage. We had casual mention of a shift in the timetable at the last meeting but no details since.”
“I've written to the HSE and I want answers, my patience has run out at this stage. The Social Democrats party leaders have been raising this issue nationally and I want the HSE to understand that the primary care centre and out of hours doctors service is still a high priority for me and for the people of Birr.”