Why Naas Hospital is (probably) safe


Paul O'Meara paul@leinsterleader.ie


Paul O'Meara paul@leinsterleader.ie

Why Naas Hospital is (probably) safe

Naas hospital

Nature abhors a vacuum. So do most of the rest of us. And the lack of firm news about the future of Naas Hospital will inevitably lead to speculation about its future.

Sadly, Fine Gael’s record on health leaves an awful lot to be desired.

There are waiting lists for surgery that haven’t been tackled and the indecision about where the Children’s Hospital should be is nothing any Fine Gael politician can be proud of.

The latter was something they inherited but still, too much time has been lost on this project.

From here, it seems unlikely that there will any change in the status of Naas Hospital.

The nearest alternative in Tallaght is already overrun and would require significant resources to deal with any additional workload.

The response of Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been to replace Leo Varadkar as Minister for Health.

Why? Perhaps Kenny believes that the inexperienced Simon Harris will do a better job.

Or perhaps that superficial changes must be made while patients wait to be treated.

It may well be that Simon Harris turns out to be best Minister for Health ever but — politics apart — there is no obvious reason why Varadkar was replaced.

What Kenny needs to do is tackle the many problems within the service rather tha rearranging the furniture around him.

Last week the issue of closing the A&E at Naas was debated at a Kildare County Council meeting.

Last year alone some 27,000 patients were cared for at Naas Hospital and many of these lay on trolleys.

Cllr Darren Scully was adamant that there would be no closures of A&E Departments.

Two councillors, Darren Scully and Padraig McEvoy were playing the age old game of blaming the messenger — the media.

We can only hope that they are in the know.

When the Leader contacted Health Service Executive about this it proved to be less assertive than Cllr Scully.

“Any national strategy for trauma services is a matter for the Department of Health.”

This falls someway short of the assertion that it won’t close.

What it is is a fudge, a kicking of the ball into touch. It is a non answer. What it is is an evasion.

The question that must be asked here is why the HSE didn’t say the A&E would remain open.

It had an opportunity to assuage fears, provide a little certainty in the midst of genuine concern.

The HSE has many well paid people who make decisions and the Government has many well paid advisers to make sure Enda Kenny doesn’t make too many cock-ups.

Given the uncertainty that was created about this issue you’d imagine they’d be happy to clarify matters. Instead they were happy to let the uncertainty continue.

We shouldn’t be taking anything for granted now.

Because Fine Gael has form here.

There were undertakings that the A & E at Roscommon Hospital would not close and we know what happened.

However that said the likelihood is that Naas will not close.

Not because politicians say so but because of the population figures. County Kildare and East Wicklow, the areas served by Naas Hospital, are growing and there isn’t the capacity of hospitals elsewhere to take patients.

Furthermore there are plans to expand Naas Hospital to enhance some services. Fine Gael wouldn’t cancel these. Would they?